Second Afghan child dies after eating toxic mushrooms in Poland

·2-min read
The Death Cap mushroom kills 90 per cent of people who eat it (Getty Images)
The Death Cap mushroom kills 90 per cent of people who eat it (Getty Images)

A second child of an Afghan family who had been evacuated from Kabul to Poland has died after eating soup containing death cap mushrooms.

The family had unknowingly gathered the highly poisonous mushrooms in a forest outside of their quarantine centre.

The six-year-old boy had received an emergency liver transplant at Poland’s main children’s hospital but doctors were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead on Friday, September 3, just one day after his five-year-old brother, who died at the same hospital.The boys’ 17-year-old sister was also treated at the hospital and released, in good condition. Doctors said the dose of toxins was less damaging to an adult with a larger body mass than to children.

Following the deaths, authorities are investigating whether negligence could have been a factor in the poisoning.

The family of six, two adults and four children, allegedly cooked soup with the highly poisonous mushrooms they found in the forest around a centre where they were undergoing a mandatory quarantine.

Prosecutors are questioning the centre’s staff about the events as part of an investigation that could lead to possible criminal charges for negligence and unintentional exposure of people to a serious threat of loss of health or life, Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, a spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office in Warsaw, said.

The offence carries a maximum prison term of three years, she said.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said this week that the poisonings were a “tragedy, but did not result from any negligence at the centre.”

Authorities have rejected media speculation that food rations at the centre may have been insufficient. Poland evacuated the family last month at Britain’s request after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The father had worked for the British military.

In a separate incident at a different centre near Warsaw, four Afghan men were hospitalized after eating poisonous mushrooms, according to the state Office for Foreigners.

There are about 1,300 different kinds of mushrooms in Poland, some 200 of which are poisonous. They are a popular food, but very good knowledge of them is required to distinguish poisonous from edible ones. In 2019, 27 people got mushroom poisoning in Poland, and 25 of them had to be hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Death cap mushrooms, which are among the most poisonous in the world, closely resemble Poland’s edible parasol mushrooms.

Mushrooms in Europe are often different from those in the home countries of newcomers, and there have been other such cases of mushroom poisoning in past years in Germany and elsewhere. In Denmark in 2017, two children from a Congolese refugee family died and another nine family members were hospitalized after eating toxic mushrooms.

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