Orellanine is exclusively found in mushrooms of the genus Cortinarius (C. orellanus, C. speciocissimus). Orellanine is absent from C. splendens, although in a few cases of intoxication from this mushroom the symptoms developed were typical for orellanine poisoning (renal failure). The content of orellanine was determined as ca. 14 mg/g dry weight in C. orellanus, and 9 mg/g dry weight in C. speciocissimus. Toxicity of the medium-sized, fox-colored Cortinarius mushrooms remained undetected until 1952, when in Bydgosz (Poland) 102 persons fell ill after ingestion of C. orellanus, with 11 of them dying from renal failure 4 to 16 days after the meal (Grzymala, 1965). Remarkably, a similar collective poisoning with C. orellanus was reported from France, with 26 persons involved but no fatalities (due to timely intermittent dialysis) (Bouget et al., 1990). Lethal doses of orellanine are known for the mouse only, corresponding to 15 to 20 mg/kg body weight for intraperitoneal, and 33 to 90 mg/kg body weight for oral administration. Recently, three cases of suspected Cortinarius intoxication were reported from Australia (Mount et al., 2002).
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