By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – A public warning has been issued against the harvesting and consumption of the deadly wild mushroom resulting in the loss of lives.

This the Ministry of Health (MoH)’s Director-General (DG) Dr ‘Nyane Letsie had warned in a statement published last week.

“The ministry of health hereby warns the public of the dangers of [ingesting] the wild mushrooms,” reads the statement in pertinent part.

The DG said the ministry had received the reports of people who have eaten the wild mushrooms country wide.

Some of the symptoms associated with mushroom poisoning that the patients complained about she said they include stomachache, diarrhea and vomiting.

She said the Butha-Buthe government hospital had admitted and treated the child who complained about the aforementioned symptoms. Also, last year on November 14, seven people residing at Qalo were also admitted and treated at the same hospital due to eating the deadly wild mushrooms.

Dr Letsie further reported that in November 2022, at Leribe district, three people from Ha-Mokhoro, Peka lost their lives after ingesting the wild mushrooms.

The DG went on to show that in March this year, three children died after eating this poisonous plant and this happened at Ha-Nkhahle in Qacha’s Nek.

The reports received by the Ministry in March this year, indicate that the two people from Ha-Selomo have been admitted at Butha-Buthe government hospital complaining about stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. 

According to the ScienceDirect website, a platform that publishes peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, “All toxic mushrooms cause vomiting and abdominal pain; other manifestations vary significantly depending on the type of mushroom ingested. Mushroom poisoning causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody vomit and stools, enlarged tender liver and jaundice, oliguria, pulmonary edema, mental confusion, convulsions, and coma.

“Generally mushrooms that cause early symptoms (within 2 h) are less dangerous than those that cause later symptoms (usually after 6 h). Certain mushrooms act by parasympathomimetic action or may be due to hypersensitivity. The little brown mushrooms that grow in lawns cause gastroenteritis, sometimes with headache or myalgias. Diarrhea is occasionally bloody. Usually symptoms vary with the type of mushroom ingested.

“Some mushrooms contain psilocybin, which may cause hallucinations, tachycardia, and hypertension. Some mushrooms cause muscrinic symptoms such as miosis, diarrhea, and bradycardia. Members of Amanita genera cause hypoglycemia and hepatic and renal failure.”

While mushrooms are said to be a great source of natural bioactive agents, there are risks associated with the mushrooms and those include poisoning.

Dr Letsie said it is not easy to identify the toxic wild mushrooms and cautioned that “prevention is better than cure”. 

“The Ministry appeals to the members of the public to desist from eating the wild mushrooms forthwith,” the DG said.