Twist in deadly poisonous mushroom lunch case as fifth person confirmed to have been hospitalised
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A fifth person is confirmed to have been hospitalised in the case of a family in Australia being fatally poisoned by wild mushrooms.
Erin Patterson, from Victoria, Australia, recently invited former in-laws Gail and Don Patterson, both 70, as well as Mrs Patterson's sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66, and her husband Reverend Ian Wilkinson, 68, to her home for a meal, cooking the group beef wellington.
However, tragedy struck when all four guests fell ill the day after the lunch, having been rushed to Leongatha Hospital experiencing 'gastro-like symptoms', which later worsened.
Mrs Wilkinson and Mrs Patterson both passed away on 5 August, followed by Mr Patterson the following day.
Mr Wilkinson is still in hospital and is said to be in a critical condition while he awaits a liver transplant.
Ms Patterson and her two kids, however, did not fall ill, and are said to have eaten a different meal.
It has now been confirmed that a fifth person was also hospitalised in the incident, although they have thankfully been discharged.
A hospital spokesperson said: “A fifth person was discharged, after a short presentation at the Leongatha Hospital.”
After determining that all four guests had consumed poisonous mushrooms, known as death caps, during the gathering, police in Victoria have launched an investigation into the mysterious deaths.
Ms Patterson was interviewed by police but was later released without charge, though she remains a suspect.
Standing outside her home, the 48-year-old pleaded her innocence to reporters, claiming she had nothing to do with the deaths.
She said: "The loss to the community and to the families and my own children who have lost their grandmother… I just can't fathom what has happened.
"I'm so sorry that they have lost their lives. I just can't believe it. I didn't do anything, I love them and I'm devastated they are gone."
Ms Patterson did not answer any questions about the mushrooms, which are believed to have been the cause of the poisoning.
Victoria Police, which is working with a team of medical experts and the health authority to get to the bottom of the case, said the victims experienced symptoms consistent with poisoning from the death cap mushroom.
The particularly potent fungi contains the poison amanitin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
According to the Victoria health department, just one mushroom is enough to kill.
Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said: "I'm not aware of an investigation where we've had three people die as a result of an apparent food poisoning, whether that be by a mushroom or something else - so yes, it is quite unique.
"[Ms Patterson] has not presented with any symptoms. So again, that forms part of our investigation whether she did or didn't eat any of the mushrooms or anything else that may have been eaten on that particular day."