Mushroom poisoning toll rises to 16, govt orders enquiry

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Guwahati, Apr 06 (UNI) The toll due to the mushroom poisoning in the state has risen to 16, with reports of two more deaths received from the Assam Medical College (AMC) here this morning.

At least 16 persons have died so far and 45 others taken ill as mushroom poisoning has assumed menacing proportions in upper Assam, especially in the Golaghat, Sivsagar and Jorhat districts.

Meanwhile, the state government rushed a team of top agricultural scientists to Golaghat district and ordered a full-scale inquiry to probe into the root cause of the deaths as well as Assam Health Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sharma sought a detailed report from the Golaghat district administration.

''Apparently, the food poisoning has not been trigerred by poverty since there is no question of the people facing starvation as the vegetables are cheap at this time of the year,'' Dr Sharma said.

Wild mushrooms consumed by the people proved fatal as the poisonous mushrooms affected the liver adversely and the disease assumed serious proportions before medical help could reach them.

''The government encourages mushroom cultivation through the self-help groups. However, the wild mushrooms plucked from jungles were mistaken to be of the edible variety, which instead proved to be fatal. We need to organise a massive public awareness campaign,'' Dr Sharma said.

Meanwhile state Agriculture Minister Prameela Rani Brahama told UNI that she had asked Vice-Chancellor of the Assam Agricultural University (AAU) S S Vagel to look into the matter seriously.

Official sources said seven persons, including children, had died after consuming poisonous mushrooms in Golaghat on April 2. The victims fell ill after eating mushrooms collected from a jungle at Bahupathar. Four others later died in the AMC.

Ms Brahma said two scientists had already reached Golaghat and they would examine why the mushrooms were turning poisonous frequently.

UNI MT DPM RD 1302

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