Two residents of a Loomis seniors facility died and four other people were hospitalized after consuming soup with wild mushrooms harvested by a caregiver, the Placer County Sheriff's Department reported.
Placer County Sheriff's Lt. Mark Reed said Saturday that deputies were called at 10 a.m. Friday to the Gold Age Villa, an elderly care home on a rustic property along Horseshoe Bar Road.
"We got a report that some people had consumed some poisonous mushrooms," Reed said. "We responded out to the facility and interviewed people to make sure sure there was no foul play. There wasn't any...It was an accident."
Reed said a caregiver who prepared the meal with the mushrooms was among six people sickened. Reed said the two residents who died were identified as Barbara Lopes, 86, and Teresa Olesniewicz, 73. The caregiver and three residents were hospitalized, he said.
Reed called the event a tragedy, in which the caregiver "just didn't know" the mushrooms were poisonous.
The incident is being investigated by the California Department of Social Services, which licenses senior care facilities.
Last year, the California Department of Public Health warned that collecting and eating wild mushrooms can cause cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as liver and kidney failure.
According to state data, there were more than 1,700 reported cases of mushroom ingestion in California in 2009 and 2010. They included ten cases of serious poisoning and two deaths, including an 82-year-old Santa Barbara man who gathered wild mushrooms to saute with his steak.
While the type of mushrooms consumed in the Loomis tragedy were unknown, two varieties commonly found in California - the Amanita ocreata and Amanita phalloides, dubbed the "destroying angel" and "death cap," respectively - are considered particularly dangerous.
Public health officials say people who gather mushrooms shouldn't eat them unless they have been examined by an expert for safety. People who develop symptoms after eating wild mushrooms should seek immediate medical attention and contact the California Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222.
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