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Poison control calls doubled from people eating plants, mushrooms found in woods

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Upstate New York Poison Center Facebook

More New Yorkers have been calling the Upstate New York Poison Center over the past year and a half, after getting sick from eating plants they’ve foraged for in the woods.

The number of these kinds of calls doubled last year, and is extending into this year according to Poison Center Medical Director Vince Calleo.

"Very frequently, we’ll get calls from people who have nausea and vomiting that go along with some plants or mushrooms they’ve been exposed to, and other times the symptoms can be more severe," Calleo said.

One of the biggest culprits making food foragers sick is mushrooms. One of the more common mushrooms causing issues is the Amanita phalloides mushroom in particular. It’s also known as the death cap.

"And they can cause a lot of different problems,” Calleo said. “One of the things we see with that is significant damage to the liver, a lot of times."

Calleo blames part of the increase on the pandemic. People with more time on their hands are exploring the outdoors and foraging for edible plants. Calleo said the cases involved people without experience or expertise in food foraging, and he said especially in the spring, even expert foragers can be fooled. His advice, be cautious out in the woods and if he’s got a taste for some mushrooms…

"The only place I like to forage for them is when I go to the grocery store.”