SANTA CRUZ -- A woman admitted to Dominican Hospital on Sunday after eating toxic mushrooms has responded so well to treatment with a European antidote that she's likely to be discharged Thursday, according to Dr. Todd Mitchell.
The woman had eaten six death cap mushrooms, "a very large ingestion," and experienced "a stormy 24 hours" in the hospital, said Mitchell.
In addition to the drug treatment, a radiologist used a tube to drain the toxic bile from the patient's gallbladder -- an experimental procedure recommended by Mitchell for a mini-Australian shepherd who ate poisonous mushrooms in the Anderson Valley in July. The dog recovered.
Eating wild mushrooms can be expensive, requiring a liver transplant or kidney dialysis, or fatal.
In the past two years, four people in California have died from mushroom poisoning, according to Mitchell, who was called when residents of an elder care home in Loomis fell ill after consuming wild mushroom soup.
The Dominican patient is the third to be treated in Santa Cruz with Legalon SIL, intravenous milk thistle, a European drug undergoing its first U.S. clinical trial.
Mitchell, a physician at Dominican Hospital, is principal investigator of that clinical trial.
He pioneered the use of Legalon SIL in the U.S. six years ago when a family fell ill after eating tacos containing death cap mushrooms picked at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz. Five of the six family
after he obtained the drug from Germany along with an emergency waiver from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
More than 60 patients in North America have been treated for amatoxin mushroom poisoning with Legalon SIL under the auspices of the clinical trial.
Mitchell reported a complete recovery for all of the patients that did not go into renal failure before starting treatment. He expects the findings of the clinical trial will be presented to the FDA this year.
"We're able to see the whole picture now," he said. "After the drug is approved and our protocol is recognized, this will be treatable in community hospitals."
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