This week saw the inquest into the death of a woman on the Isle of Wight who ate the deathcap mushroom Amanita phalloides and died.
Amphon Tuckey died in 2008, two days after eating a meal of cooked Amanita with her sister-in-law and niece, Mrs Kannika Tuckey, who survived despite becoming gravely ill. Both women were from Thailand. Deathcaps are responsible for 90% of all fatal mushroom poisonings in the UK and are said to have caused the deaths of both Roman Emperor Claudius in 54AD and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in 1740. They look innocuous enough, are pleasant to eat, and once you’ve eaten enough – and a small amount is enough – you’re highly likely to die an unpleasant death and no treatment will save you. But despite this common fungus growing pretty much everywhere, incidents of Amanita poisoning, let alone deaths are almost unknown. So what went wrong? Why did Mrs Tuckey die? Back in 2008 when this incident occurred, I was indirectly involved, as it involved a wild species (possibly) on council land. At that time I had do do some very quick research into Amanita poisoning and the risks thereof to satisfy concerned senior types who were advocating the immediate elimination of all fungi in public places and other such unachievable goals. Whilst I was easily able to calm down the over-reactors, something else I discovered on the way was very interesting. Now the inquest is over and done with I thought it might be time to bring it out. It has something to do with Mrs Tuckey’s country of origin. Continue reading