In the past 30 years, more than 400 sudden deaths have occured during the rainy season in the Yunnan province. Following a five-year investigation, researchers from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Beijling say they have the culprit, says BBC.
They found that the deaths occured almost always during rainy season at an altitude of 1800-2400 meters.
“We heard amazing stories about how people would drop dead in the middle of a conversation,” Zhang Shu, cardiologist at the CDC told Science Magazine.
“About two-thirds of victims, in the hours before death experienced symptoms such as heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness, seizures, and fatigue.”
The scientists noted, in 2008, that the Little White mushroom was often found in the homes where people had died.
Yunnan are known for its wild mushrooms, and the province is widely exporting lots of them. But the families, who make their living by collecting and selling mushrooms, have for long eaten the Little White as it has no commercial value. It is too small, and it turns brown way too fast after being picked.
In Yunnan, a campaign is now warning people against eating the Little White, and this has dramatically reduced the number of deaths.
There have been no reported deaths so far this year.