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New England Poison Control Center Staying Busy Due To Abundance Of Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms in New Hampshire, July 2021.
Sarah Gibson
Wild mushrooms in New Hampshire, July 2021.

The Northern New England Poison Control Center says the surfeit of mushrooms this summer and an increase in foraging during the pandemic is keeping their lines busy.

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The center typically gets between 35 to 49 calls about mushroom poisonings from New Hampshire annually. This year, they’ve already received over 40 calls from the Granite State.

Dr. Karen Simone, the director of the Northern New England Poison Center, blames some of this on the weather. The wetter and cooler it is, the more wild mushrooms grow, and the more available they are to foragers, pets, and curious kids.

“As soon as all this rain started falling, we knew we were going to have a problem,” she says.

Some of the calls to poison control are about accidental ingestion; others are from people who ate them intentionally.

“The majority of these cases that we have involve people who either didn't even try to identify it — They just saw it on their lawn, thought it looked interesting and brought it in and ate it, or people who were pretty sure that they were picking chanterelles or king bolites or other mushrooms, and they just weren't identifying them properly,” she says.

Gathering wild mushrooms is a beloved hobby for many. Simone advises that amateurs find a mushroom clubin their area and learn from local experts.

Anyone concerned about poison ingestion should call The Northern New England Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.The center is open 24/7 and experts are also available via live chat on its website.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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