A 34-year-old Vietnamese man has been hospitalized for food poisoning treatment after he ate more than 10 cicada larva shells, misunderstanding that they were caterpillar fungi.
The patient, a native of south-central Binh Thuan Province, was admitted to Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, said Nguyen Thi Thuy Ngan, deputy head of the hospital’s tropical disease department, on Wednesday.
When he was working in his garden on Sunday, the man discovered mushroom-shaped cicada larva shells and thought that they were caterpillar fungi.
He took around 12-14 shells home for a late-night meal.
The man immediately developed the symptoms of fatigue, headache, stomach pain, vomiting, and muscle weakness.
He was rushed to a local hospital in Binh Thuan before being transferred to Cho Ray Hospital for further treatment.
Ngan added that he was being treated in the intensive care unit with improved health conditions.
She advised local people not to eat cicada larva shells, which resemble caterpillar fungi in appearance.
People should buy caterpillar fungi, which have a number of health benefits, with clear origin and quality, or they can also seek expert advice before buying them.
According to the doctor, newly-hatched cicada larvae can sit nearby fungal spores which will attack and live as parasites on the cicada larvae, and gradually change host tissues and grow into fungi.
These fungi absorb nutrients from the host until the latter’s death and continue to grow bigger than the host. Hence, they are called caterpillar fungi.
As parasitic fungi could be good for health or poisonous, the caterpillar fungus therefore could be nutrient-rich or turn poisonous, she said.
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