Poisonings in the Ukraine

Keith Klein kklein at vax1.mankato.msus.edu
Thu Oct 3 11:12:25 EST 1996

In article <01IA6A6RAJNM001WYN at vaxa.cis.uwosh.edu>, bentiven at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU ("Stephen P. Bentivenga") says:
>This morning my local newspaper (the Oshkosh Northwestern) printed a very
>brief article which it obtained from the AP wire.  The article, in it's
>entirety, is below:
>"Poisonous mushrooms have killed 92 people and left more than 1,100
>hospitalized in the deadliest mushroom season in years.  Doctors blame the
>surge in poisonings on economic hardships, which are forcing more and more
>Ukrainians to search for wild mushrooms to eat.  Poisonings frequently occur
>when people mistake a deadly white mushroom common in Ukraine for harmless
>Can anyone verify the truthfullness of this report?  What is the fungus (or
>fungi) involved.  At first I thought of Amanita phalloides, but the text
>mentions a "white" mushroom.  What about Amanita virosa, A. ocreata, or a
>similar species??  Do these occur in the Ukraine?

Dear Steve:
Yes its all too true. The number of poisonings throughout the former USSR 
is very high, and for the factors given. The cultivated mushroom industry 
is still in its infancy there. I have been over there to consult with growers,
and the amount of production is still way below demand. Also, the cost of
mushrooms in some places is very high, way beyond the average family's
means. What's worse is that some inexperienced mushroom gatherers sell 
their extra harvest in the local markets, helping to increase the poisoning
rate. I've been served some dubious soup myself, and I always decline to eat

Keith Klein
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Mankato State University
Mankato, MN 56002

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