Australian woman arrested in suspected mushroom poisoning deaths

Erin Patterson invited two couples to lunch at her rural home in the state of Victoria, Australia, one Saturday in late July. A week later, three of the four guests were dead, and the other was seriously ill. Authorities suspect they ate death cap mushrooms, orPatterson, 49, at her home in Leongatha, a bucolic country town about 70 miles southeast of Melbourne, shortly after 8 a.m. local time. They also began to search the property, including using detection dogs.

That night, they all became seriously ill with what appeared to be food poisoning. Ian Wilkinson spent nearly two months in the hospital. The other three died.Death caps look similar to other nonpoisonous mushroom species. That makes them easily mistakable to people who forage for them in the wild. Just half a cap can cause liver damage.

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