FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A third person has died from eating poisonous mushrooms at a California senior care facility where a caretaker found the fungus in the backyard and used it to make soup, authorities said Wednesday.
The 90-year-old man died on Saturday, state Department of Social Services spokesman Oscar Ramirez told The Associated Press. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office identified him as Frank Warren Blodgett.
Ramirez said an official with Gold Age Villa in Loomis called Monday to report the third death. State officials are continuing to investigate the incident that sheriff’s investigators have described as a terrible accident.
Three other people were sickened when they ate the soup made from the poisonous mushrooms on Nov. 8, including the caretaker who made it. Their conditions have not been made public.
The caretaker at the six-bed care facility did not know the mushrooms were poisonous, investigators said. The following day, those who ate the soup were ill.
Vomiting and diarrhea associated with mushroom poisoning can take 12 hours or longer to develop, which often makes it difficult to diagnose, said Dr. Kent R. Olson, medical director of the San Francisco division of the California Poison Control System.
“People don’t necessarily make a connection right away,” unlike food poisoning, which comes on much more quickly, Olson said.
The biggest problem with mushroom poisoning is liver toxicity. Olson said the organ stops producing normal proteins, and it eventually shuts down and dies.
“Once that happens the liver can’t regenerate, so they go into a liver failure,” he said. “It’s quite dramatic.”
Treatment includes massive amounts of IV fluids to prevent kidney failure, and activated charcoal to absorb the poison. In the past, the mortality rate was as high as 90 percent worldwide. But with the supportive care, Olson said it has declined in recent years to about 15 percent.