Toxic mushrooms kill 6 Myanmar workers in Yunnan

Trogia venenata. Photo: Micomedicina

Six migrant workers from Myanmar died last week after eating poisonous mushrooms near the farm where they worked in China’s Yunnan Province, the District Information and Public Relations Department in Muse, Shan State, has reported.

The workers reportedly ate the mushrooms on June 11 and were taken to various hospitals in Yunnan and Muse over the next couple days. Six of them died between June 16 and June 18, and one remains in critical condition. The workers were originally from Magway, Ayeyawady, and Bago regions.

While the mushroom has not been identified, the circumstances of the workers’ deaths bears some resemblance to a slew of around 400 deaths over three decades in Yunnan. The deaths were initially attributed to the mysterious “Yunnan sudden death syndrome,” before a 2010 report in the journal Science determined that the cause was a tiny mushroom called Trogia venenata, also known as “Little White.”

The mushroom contains three toxic amino acids. Mushroom collectors would eat them because they have no commercial value. Those who ate the mushrooms experienced nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, seizures, fatigue, and often death.

There have been no official reports of Yunnan sudden death syndrome since 2010.

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