Lamphun family hospitalised after toxic fungus ingestion

Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

A family in Lamphun province was hospitalised after consuming a toxic fungus, commonly known as Waan Jak Jan.

The incident occurred after the husband, 60 year old Tui, collected fungus from a termite mound in his longan orchard, mistaking it for a recently deceased termite larvae which he thought was safe to eat.

Tui, a resident of Thung Man, Pa Phlu Subdistrict, Ban Hong District, Lamphun, discovered a damp, old termite mound while tending to his longan orchard on Tuesday morning. After digging into the mound with a hoe, he found a large number of what he believed to be fresh termite larvae due to their firm and unspoiled nature.

Unbeknownst to Tui, these were Waan Jak Jan, a deadly fungus that grows on dead insects and is often mistaken for a plant or root, especially during the rainy season.

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Upon returning home, Tui gave the fungus to his wife, Somsri, who cooked it by roasting it until it was crispy and then used it to make a chilli paste for their breakfast. They consumed the meal along with Somsri’s sister, Nong.

Shortly after their meal, all three of them began to experience severe allergic reactions, including muscle spasms, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Upon learning of their condition, neighbours quickly rushed them to Ban Hong Hospital.

Despite the prompt medical attention they received, Somsri and Nong’s conditions were critical, necessitating their transfer to Lamphun Hospital for further treatment.

Medical professionals later identified the fungus as Waan Jak Jan, a remnant of insects that have died and become infected with a fungus. Not only is it toxic due to natural and chemical contaminants from the environment, but it also resists high temperatures, making it dangerous even after being cooked.

Local beliefs have misled some into thinking that Waan Jak Jan possesses mystical properties, leading to its consumption in fried dishes or boiled in water as a drink, which can result in severe neurological and gastrointestinal issues, reported KhaoSod.

The health authorities have since issued warnings about the dangers of consuming unknown fungi and urged the public to be cautious.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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