Mushrooms should never be eaten unless the person gathering them is known to be thoroughly conversant with the different varieties. Certain poisonous varieties resemble the edible so closely that only an expert can tell the difference. The knowledge, however, is one that every hunter and camper should familiarize himself with as mushrooms are usually plenty in the hills and furnish an agreeable addition to the menu.
Phalline, the toxic principle of the phalloida group of mushrooms, is a toxalbumin of extreme violence and resembles very much the toxic albuminose of rattlesnake virus; in fact, it seems to act upon the digestion very much as crotalin does upon the circulation. There is another toxic principle present in certain other varieties of fungi called muscarine; both these poisons act very similarly.
The symptoms are a feeling of giddiness coming on from one hour to fifteen hours after eating the fungus. This is followed by profuse salivation, the water running out of the patient's mouth in a stream. Blindness ensues, and vomiting and diarrhea come in their train. The heart is weakened and the patient breathes with difficulty. At the last he lies in a stupor.
The treatment is similar to that of ptomaine poisoning. Remove the offending material at once by the same process. For a purgative oleaginous agents are the best if available, castor oil being preferable; failing in that any active cathartic will do. The heart then must be stimulated by the digitalin; strychnia also plays a prominent role here.
Moody, Charles Stuart. Backwoods Surgery & Medicine. New York: Outing Pub., 1916. Print.
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