4 Tourists Hospitalized in Australia After Eating Poisonous Mushrooms

Four Asian tourists were hospitalized in Australia after eating one of the world's most poisonous mushrooms -- the death cap.

The four people consumed the mushrooms at a New Year's Eve party in Canberra -- possibly confusing them with straw mushrooms, which are popular in Chinese cooking.

A woman and a man, aged 52 and 38 respectively, were flown to Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on Monday afternoon after first being admitted to Canberra's Calvary Hospital on Sunday, Australia's public broadcaster, the ABC reported.

A 51-year-old man was also transferred to Royal Prince Alfred after being admitted to Manly Hospital in Sydney's north.

All three are being monitored for liver damage, while a fourth person was discharged from Canberra Hospital on Tuesday.

The entire death cap mushroom is considered poisonous and eating just one of the silky white-to-greenish-brown capped, white-gilled fungi can be fatal.

"The mushroom looks very similar to a mushroom known as the Paddy Straw mushroom, which is common in Southeast Asia and is a delicacy, and people eat it regularly as a source of food," Michael Hall, director of Canberra Hospital's emergency department, told the ABC.

Recent rains in the Canberra region have seen the mushrooms, an introduced species, sprout ahead of their normal season.

"People should not eat any mushroom unless they can be absolutely certain that it is not poisonous," Hall said in a warning statement issued by the Australian Capital Territory government.

"It can be difficult for even experienced collectors to tell poisonous and safe species of wild mushroom apart. So unless people are completely sure, they should avoid any white-gilled mushroom.

"Anyone who suspects that they might have eaten death cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical help, preferably at a hospital."

Three people have died in the Australian Capital Territory during the last decade due to death cap mushroom poisoning, while there have been about a dozen cases of illness.

The fungi have been involved in the majority of human deaths from mushroom poisoning, possibly including the deaths of Roman Emperor Claudius and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI.