In Northern California, it is the season for wild chanterelle mushrooms, a highly sought variety — and also the amanita species of mushrooms, which includes the descriptively named "death cap" and "death angel" varieties. Young poisonous North American amanitas often look like an edible version of a wild mushroom popular in Asia.
The California Department of Public Health periodically issues warnings about consumption of wild mushrooms, especially after someone eats a poisonous variety and falls ill.
According to state data, California had more than 1,700 reported cases of mushroom ingestion-related illnesses in 2009 to 2010. They included 10 cases of serious poisoning and two deaths: an 82-year-old Santa Barbara man who died after cooking wild mushrooms with his steak and a Lodi woman who died after eating mushrooms she had picked in a park.
"We'd like for people to be careful," Anita Gore, spokeswoman for the CDPH, said Monday.
Severe mushroom poisoning can result in renal and liver failure.
The conditions of the four hospitalized were not immediately known. Placer County officials referred questions about the incident to the California Department of Social Services, the agency that licenses senior care facilities.
Spokesman Michael Weston did not return messages left on his cell phone.