Hikers hospitalized after making soup from poisonous forest mushrooms

senior man harvesting cantharellus cibarius in the forest
(Image credit: Xavier Lorenzo)

Three hikers became seriously ill after eating soup they made using mushrooms foraged in a forest. The men (all of whom are believed to be foreign workers) ate the soup while hiking near Jerusalem, Israel, last week.

According to the Times of Israel, the men are suspected to have eaten Amanita Proxima, which is a plain white-colored fungus usually found in France, Italy, and Spain. Although it resembles many edible species, Amanita Proxima is extremely poisonous, and is known to cause acute kidney failure that may require treatment with temporary dialysis.

Two of the hikers travelled to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem on Friday with symptoms of poisoning, and the third presented himself a few hours later feeling weak and nauseous. 

The third man, who has been identified as a Chinese national, became progressively worse over the following days. He is suffering from heart damage and kidney failure according to Dr Andrey Nevo, who is treating him in the intensive care unit at Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv.

"There is nothing left for us to do except connect him to a heart-lung machine [a cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) pump] and dialysis," Dr Nevo told the Jerusalem Post. "We ourselves were surprised at how quickly his condition deteriorated. It is difficult to assess his chances of recovery."

When it doubt, throw it out

Mushroom foraging should only be done with care, and you should be absolutely certain that you know what you've found before deciding to eat it.

In October, a Canadian hiker was airlifted to hospital after eating a meal made using foraged mushrooms that turned out to be toxic.

“As someone who is learning to forage, you want to start with basic ones that don’t have poisonous lookalikes, and move along,” Chef Robin Kort of Swallow Tail Culinary Adventures told CTV News at the time. “Number one is when in doubt, throw it out. If you don’t know what it is, just don’t eat it.”

For more advice, see our guide how to go mushroom hunting.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.