Two Galilee families treated after eating wild mushrooms

Despite the lack of rain, wild mushrooms are appearing in forests and groves, and some of them are poisonous. During the past few days, two Galilee Arab families - including young children - were poisoned by eating wild mushrooms they thought were edible. One family was from Kfar Eini and the other from a village near Tzipori. About 15 minutes after they ate the mushrooms, they began feeling dizzy. They went to the English Hospital in Nazareth, where they were treated with atropine injections and discharged. Atropine is the chemical that was included in kits distributed to the entire population before the first Gulf War as an antidote to chemical warfare. Dr. Michal Cohen-Dar, the Health Ministry's district health officer in the North, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that as the toxin in certain wild mushrooms is similar to chemicals used in unconventional warfare, atropine is effective for those who have eaten poisonous mushrooms. After the first case, Cohen-Dar thought the mushrooms might have been sprayed with toxic chemicals, but when the next case of a six-member family picking mushrooms in a forest came along, she was persuaded that toxic wild mushrooms were the cause. Cohen-Dar, who has lived in a moshav, said she loved mushrooms but was careful not to eat any wild ones she had not absolutely identified. Asked why the ministry doesn't release photos of edible and inedible species, she said: "The poisonous ones sometimes look very similar to edible ones, such as those that grow at the bottom of pine trees, from a certain angle. It would be dangerous to give out pictures, as people could be misled." The victims could have suffered damage to their kidneys and livers if not treated, she said, but they have now recovered. She advised the public to buy mushrooms from recognized stores only, or - if they want to pick wild ones - to do so only when they have no doubt that the species are edible.