Toxic mushroom ID'd as cause of student illness at Silver Lake school

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Toxic mushroom ID'd as cause of student illness at Silver Lake school
A toxic mushroom species, amanita pantherina, is believed to be the cause of multiple illnesses at a Silver Lake elementary school.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Several Los Angeles Unified School District students were sickened by toxic mushrooms, according to documents obtained by Eyewitness News.

Today, 10-year-old Chris Acosta has been released from Children's Hospital and is recovering at home. He says he was heaving so violently, he could barely stand up.

"I couldn't walk. I just was tired and everything from vomiting," says the fifth-grader.

His medical report from Children's Hospital identifies the suspected source: A toxic mushroom species, amanita pantherina.

Chris says mushrooms were offered to the entire class by a worker who was guiding them through the garden at Micheltorena Elementary in Silver Lake on Wednesday.

Chris' father is furious that the 10-year old was exposed to such a hazard.

"If he had eaten more I don't know what the consequences would be at that point," says Ted Acosta.

And he is not the only parent upset.

Griselda Renteria rushed her daughter to the ER after just a taste of the mushroom. The diagnosis cited on her report from Children's Hospital says "accidental poisoning from mushroom and funghi."

"She says the guy in the garden gave her a little piece and she ate just a little because she doesn't like mushrooms," says Renteria.

Today the garden is off-limits to students at Micheltorena. An LAUSD spokesperson tells Eyewitness News that now more than 100 school gardens are shutdown while the district devises a strategy to inspect every one.

Public health officials urge parents to be alert to the symptoms of possible poisoning: Difficulty walking, speaking, breathing; a decline in mental alertness.

Mushroom experts meantime say the species suspected can be found anywhere in the western United States. They warn never eat anything wild without an expert's guidance.

Chris' dad goes a step further.

"Definitely you have to teach your children not to eat something that is just picked up from the ground and offered to them," he says.

Micheltorena Elementary is holding a meeting for parents in the school auditorium Tuesday as administrators respond to the incident.