CHARLESTON — Warmth, rain, and spring means wild mushroom and snakes in the Mountain State. As expected, the West Virginia Poison Center has already received calls for assistance following wild mushroom ingestions and snakebites.

Wild mushrooms — Wild mushrooms may look like the ones enjoyed on salads and pizzas, but they are not guaranteed safe to eat. While some wild mushrooms are edible, some are poisonous. Children may eat mushrooms they find in their yard. Adults have been poisoned after eating mushrooms picked in the wild. Teenagers and adults have been poisoned after using mushrooms to cause hallucinations. The symptoms of mushroom poisonings vary depending on the type of mushroom eaten. However, mushroom poisoning can be fatal.

Edible mushroom? Poisonous mushroom? It can be hard to tell. Mushroom identification can be difficult and complex and should only be left up to a trained mycologist (mushroom expert). The West Virginia Poison Center advises against picking and eating any wild mushrooms.

Venomous snakes — West Virginia has two kinds of venomous, also called poisonous, snakes, the timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead.

To prevent snake bites, people in areas that may be infested should:

• Avoid walking at night

• Avoid high grass and underbrush

• Look before reaching or sitting on areas snakes could be hiding, like rock ledges or under logs

• Should not approach or kill snakes unnecessarily

If bitten by a snake, do:

• Immobilize the bitten area and limit use

• Remove any restricting items, such as rings or bracelets

• Wash the area with soap and water

• Transport the victim to the nearest medical facility

• Call the West Virginia Poison Center

If bitten by a snake, do not:

• Apply ice

• Apply a tourniquet

• Cut and suck the bitten area

• Attempt to catch or kill the snake. A dead snake can still bite.

If you or someone you know has consumed a wild mushroom, the ingestion should be reported immediately to the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. Do not wait for symptoms to appear.

If bitten by a venomous (poisonous) snake, begin transport to the nearest medical facility and call the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

The West Virginia Poison Center provides comprehensive emergency poison information, prevention and educational resources to West Virginians 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The WVPC is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and physicians with special training in treatment of poisonings. Located in Charleston, the WVPC is a part of the West Virginia University-Charleston Division and located next to CAMC Memorial Hospital. Call toll-free 1-800-222-1222 or visit the website at www.wvpoisoncenter.org.

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