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New Jersey Poison Control Warning Residents About Dangerous, Wild Mushrooms And Toxic Health Effects

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey's poison control center is warning residents about harmful, wild mushrooms that are in season.

As CBS2's Meg Baker reported Thursday, our recent weather is contributing to their growth.

Foragers beware.

"It's really hard to identify a toxic from a non-toxic mushroom," said Dr. Diane Calello, head of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers.

Dr. Calello said the center gets calls about exposure to mushrooms around this time every year.

Many don't realize some wild mushrooms can be deadly. It's best to steer clear of them all, she said.

"Liver failure. That is really hard, if not impossible, to fix once it's underway. And it can look to some people like a pretty benign mushroom. It's called the emanated mushroom and it's white," Dr. Calello said. "It's kind of pleasant looking and, to some people, it looks like an edible mushroom and that's why it's so dangerous."

This is mushroom-growing season - a perfect mix of heat, humidity and moisture before the first frost.

"The warmer the temperatures are, the more moisture the atmosphere can hold," said CBS2 meteorologist Justin Lewis. "We have seen many thunderstorm events around the area."

"People do like to forage for mushrooms, and I guess you could think of people being home more, outdoors more with the COVID pandemic, that might increase foraging behavior," Dr. Calello said.

There are also concerns for pets.

"They can have liver failure or some of the other symptoms we see with other mushrooms, like diarrhea or delirium and hallucinations, or a lot of other symptoms," said Dr. Calello.

She said don't trust plant identification apps to tell you if a mushroom is safe and that cooking won't prevent toxic health effects.

It's best to shop for mushrooms at the grocery store.

If you have mushrooms in your yard, experts advise digging them up and disposing of them.

If someone or a pet accidentally ingests wild mushrooms, call 911 or poison control at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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