Second Afghan child likely won’t survive poisoning from mushrooms


Polish security forces surround migrants stuck along with border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Poland has been reinforcing its border with Belarus – also part of the EU’s eastern border – after thousands of migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere tried to illegally enter the country. The Polish government says it is the target of a “hybrid war” waged by authoritarian Belarus. Human rights activists are concerned about a group caught along the border, trapped between armed guards on each side. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland — Polish authorities are investigating whether negligence could have been a factor in the poisoning of an Afghan family evacuated from Kabul last month, including a 5-year-old boy who died after the family made soup from death cap mushrooms they found in a Polish forest.

The boy’s 6-year-old brother has undergone a liver transplant, but doctors at Poland’s main children’s hospital said Friday that his central nervous system was badly affected and his prospects of survival were very small.

A 17-year-old sister was treated and reported to be in good condition. Doctors said the dose of toxins was less damaging to an adult with larger body mass than to children.

The family of two adults and four children allegedly cooked soup with the highly poisonous mushrooms they found in the forest around a center where they were undergoing a mandatory quarantine. They entered the center in Podkowa Lesna, a town near Warsaw, on Aug. 23.

Prosecutors are questioning the center’s staff about the events last week as part of an investigation that could lead to possible criminal charges for negligence and unintentional exposing people to a serious threat of loss of health or life, Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, a spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office in Warsaw, said. The offense carries a maximum prison term of three years, she said.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said this week that the poisonings were a “tragedy, but did not result from any negligence at the center.

Authorities have rejected media speculation that food rations at the center may have been insufficient.

Poland evacuated the family last month at Britain’s request after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The father had worked for the British. Doctors at the children’s hospital reported the 5-year-old’s death on Thursday.

In a separate incident at a different center near Warsaw, four Afghan men were hospitalized after eating poisonous mushrooms, according to the state Office for Foreigners.

There are about 1,300 kinds of mushrooms in Poland, some 200 of which are poisonous. They are a popular dish, but very good knowledge of them is required to distinguish poisonous from edible ones.

In 2019, 27 people got mushroom poisoning in Poland, and 25 of them had to be hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Doctors advise against feeding mushrooms to children, because of the risk of poisoning, and because they have little nutritious value.

Death cap mushrooms, among the most poisonous in the world, closely resemble Poland’s edible parasol mushrooms.

In Denmark in 2017, two children from a Congolese refugee family died and another nine family members were hospitalized after eating toxic mushrooms.

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