GUWAHATI, April 29 - After two death cases were reported from neighbouring Meghalaya due to consumption of poisonous wild mushrooms, experts have warned about the possibility of similar incidents in Assam, specially when public movement is restricted on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consumption of poisonous mushrooms has caused two deaths in West Jaintia Hills and 16 others have fallen sick.
�During this time of the year, we have abundance of wild mushroom growth in Assam, specially in the tea belt of the State. However, the humid weather is also responsible for the growth of poisonous varieties,� Pranjal Baruah of the Mushroom Development Foundation told The Assam Tribune.
�Even as we are more concerned about the outbreak of COVID-19, the threat of poisonous wild mushrooms is no less in such damp and humid atmosphere. As access to markets, etc, is restricted, people in rural areas generally rely on vegetation in their backyards and neighbourhoods. Due to the lack of proper knowledge to distinguish between the edible and the poisonous mushroom varieties, more than 100 people die in the North East every year,� he added.
In Assam, kaathphula or mushroom is a staple diet for many tribes and communities. Many a time, blindfold tests are conducted by locals who give mushrooms to dogs or hens for checking the poison content, which could be dubious due to the varying digestion times of animals and humans.
The districts where poisonous wild mushrooms are found in abundance are Golaghat, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar.
Most non-lethal poisonous mushrooms produce symptoms soon after ingestion, whereas Amanita phalloides, commonly known as a �death cap� mushroom, produces life-threatening reactions nearly six to 24 hours after ingestion.
However, since a mixture of wild mushrooms is usually ingested, early onset of symptoms does not rule out lethal poisoning. Irritant symptoms may be delayed for 6-12 hours. Renal and hepatic toxicity occurs in three to six days.
A fatal dose is usually two to three mushrooms.
The signs and symptoms include constriction of throat, burning pain in stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, giddiness, and convulsions, among others. The MDF has urged the Deputy Commissioners of all the districts to issue an alert regarding this, and take measures for public awareness.