Science and Tech


2 gastrointestinal deaths tied to restaurant's mushrooms

A CDC report showed that 51 diners at a Montana restaurant quickly became ill, and a sushi roll with mushrooms is a possible cause.
Freshly picked morel mushrooms.
Posted at 3:25 PM, Mar 19, 2024

Two people died after eating mushrooms from a Montana restaurant as part of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses, according to a new report by theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report highlighted a series of gastrointestinal illnesses tied to the consumption of morel mushrooms at the restaurant. The CDC said that there were 51 illnesses tied to the outbreak, which included two deaths and three hospitalizations. 

The incidents occurred among those who dined at the restaurant from March 27–April 18, 2023. The CDC said that the restaurant began offering a special sushi roll that contained salmon and morel mushrooms. The CDC said the sushi rolls are an early suspected source of the outbreak. 

"Review of medical records for the three persons who were hospitalized and one person who sought emergency medical care without hospitalization revealed that the onset of gastrointestinal symptoms was rapid, with a median symptom onset of 1 hour after the restaurant meal. Vomiting and diarrhea were reportedly profuse, and hospitalized patients had clinical evidence of dehydration. The two patients who died had chronic underlying medical conditions that might have affected their ability to tolerate massive fluid loss," the CDC said.

Morel mushrooms are generally considered edible, but "consumption of raw morel mushrooms was more strongly associated with illness than was consumption of those that were at least partially cooked," the CDC said. 

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Although the CDC did not name the restaurant, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services identified the restaurant as Dave’s Sushi in Bozeman. 

The CDC said the restaurant temporarily closed following the outbreak. The CDC said the restaurant reopened May 25. The restaurant said after the outbreak that it was working with local health officials during their investigation. 

State health officials noted that the restaurant was cooperative with the investigation. 

Health officials said it's best to make sure morel mushrooms are fully cooked before consuming. 

"Anyone eating, selling, or serving morel mushrooms should use caution when doing so. The toxins in morel mushrooms that may cause illness are not fully understood. However, it is known that using proper preparation techniques, including cooking, can help reduce toxicity and risk of illness when consuming mushrooms," the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said. 

New report sheds light on deaths from morel mushrooms
Moral mushrooms

New report sheds light on deaths from morel mushrooms

Morel mushrooms, known for their smooth, buttery flavor caused an outbreak of illness in Montana at a sushi restaurant.