Mushrooms Deaths in Calif. Prompt Warnings from Health Officials

After two people died and another four were hospitalized, officials in California are once again stressing the importance of not consuming wild mushrooms.

On Friday, Barbara Lopes, 86, and Teresa Olesniewicz, 73, died after eating soup containing the mushrooms,that had been prepared by a caregiver at the Gold Age Villa in Loomis, Calif.

Four others, including the caregiver that prepared the meals, were hospitalized, according to Lt. Mark Reed of the Placer County Sheriff's office.

Deputies stated that the deaths resulting from consuming the mushrooms was unintentional after they conducted a preliminary investigation at the assisted living facility. Reed explained that the caregiver who prepared the meals "just didn't know" the mushrooms were poisonous.

Gold Age Villa received their license as a residential care facility March 2007, according to records obtained by the Associated Press. The facility had a maximum capacity of six residents, aged 60 and up.

An inspection that was conducted on March 12, 2012, showed that it received a citation for excessive hot water temperature that reached 130 degrees. The problem was corrected and cleared by Michael Weston of the California Department of Social Services.

The California Department of Health has routinely published warnings and issued statements concerning the harm that can result from eating some types of wild mushrooms. Unfortunately, some people do not heed those warnings and find themselves in the hospital with serious illness.

"We get them almost every year where people go out picking wild mushrooms and wind up picking these deadly mushrooms and wind up in the hospital very sick in intensive care with a failing liver," Kathryn Meier of the California Poison Control System told KPIX.

There were more than 1,700 reported cases of mushroom ingestion in California between 2009 and 2010, according to state records. The more serious incidents included 10 cases of serious poisoning and two deaths.

Wild mushrooms grow during the fall season in northern California and state officials reveal that this time of year is when they see the majority of these types of cases.