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SURVIVE THIS! by josh pi v en Fungus Fatale

Forest mushrooms might look yummy, but some can kill. Here’s what to do if a Scout in your troop eats one.

the gastrointestinal tract and the renal system (kidneys) to those that affect the central nervous and immune systems. A single poisonous mushroom species may have only one toxin, or it may have several. This variability often complicates treatment. This is also why it’s critical for emergency personnel to identify the type(s) ingested—hence the importance of preserving samples. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to severe injury and death from toxic mushroom ingestion. The affected Scout should be taken to a hospital immediately. Depending on the type of mushroom eaten, the onset of symptoms might not occur for as many as 24 hours following ingestion. On the way to get help, write down the following information: the near-precise time the mushrooms were eaten, all types ingested, and the amount of each. This is important if the toxins from one variety mask the symptoms of another. Because the nearest hospital might

SITUATION: On a weekend campout in the Pacific Northwest, you groggily arrive at the Bear patrol’s table for a hot breakfast. A young Scout on morning duty offers you a fluffy omelet filled with forest mushrooms—just picked! Recoiling in alarm, you notice his empty plate: He’s already eaten. What should you do?

Solution: FIRST, ASSUME THE worst. Before anyone else is potentially

42 SCOUTING ¿  

poisoned, throw the omelets into the fire—even if they come with toast and a side of home fries (throw those in, too). Next, place a sample of each type of mushroom in a plastic bag and scatter or bury the rest. Third, locate the nearest hospital that has an emergency room—and get very good directions. There is a wide range of factors to consider when dealing with accidental forest mushroom ingestion. Not only are many varieties of poisonous mush- rooms virtually indistinguishable from their benign counterparts, but the toxins within them vary widely— as do their effects and the delay before the onset of symptoms. Toxins range from those that attack

not be equipped to accurately identify the mushrooms, telemedicine or the Internet may be used for remote diag- nosis. You can assist medical personnel by taking careful photos of each type of mushroom ingested, which could be sent to another facility for identi- fication. Note that the mushrooms should be kept in a zip-top bag and not handled, since inhalation of spores also can be dangerous. If you find that the nearest emer-

gency room is many hours away, research suggests that the administra-

FIND MORE SURVIVAL scenarios at survivethis.


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