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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Faiza Saqib

Police investigate deaths after suspected mushroom poisoning in Australia

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The homicide squad in Victoria Australia are currently investigating the deaths of three people in a suspected case of mushroom poisoning.

Five people were invited to a private family meal at a home in the town of Leongatha in South Gippsland. A meal, which is suspected to have left a woman as well as her sister and brother-in-law dead at the hospital.

According to a statement released by Victoria Police, four people were taken to hospital on 30 July after they became ill following a meal they had the previous day.

Police said sister Heather Wilkinson aged 66 and Gail Patterson 70, passed away in hospital on 4 August. The third person, Don Patterson aged 70, passed away on 5 August.

The fourth person, Ian Wilkinson, 68, from the local Baptist church in Korumburra, remains in critical condition at the hospital.

On Saturday 5 August, members of the homicide squad “executed a search warrant at a residence in Leongatha,” the statement said.

Police also investigated a 48-year-old woman who was a relative of the victims and whose home the meal was prepared and served in.

At a press conference on Monday, homicide Squad Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said that the deaths are “unexplained” and for that purpose, the homicide squad are involved in the investigation.

Inspector Thomas said two children were present at the scene but “they did not receive any injuries or symptoms” as police believe they may have consumed a different meal to the others that were present.

The suspect, Erin Patterson is the former daughter-in-law of two of the victims and Inspector Thomas said she remains a suspect in the case “because she cooked those meals”.

“Now again, she (the suspect) hasn’t presented with any symptoms, but we have to keep an open mind in relation to this, that it could be very innocent,” he added.

On Monday, Ms Patterson finally broke her silence as she broke down in front of her home over the loss of “some of the best people I’ve ever met”.

“The loss to the community and to the families and my own children who have lost their grandmother… I just can’t fathom what has happened,” she said.

“I’m so sorry that they have lost their lives. I just can’t believe it.”

What are the symptoms of mushroom poisoning?

According to Better Health, poisonous mushrooms can grow around Victoria, especially during the autumn months.

The health website has said that there are three main effects of poisonous mushrooms, these include hallucinations, gastrointestinal illness, liver failure and death.

The symptoms of these are:

• Confusion

• Muscle weakness

• Agitation

• Rapid heart rate

• Headache

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Stomach cramps

• Diarrhoea

About nine out of 10 mushroom deaths are caused by the death cap mushroom, which can cause life-threatening damage to the liver and kidneys, Better Health reports.

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