Health Care

Giant Toxic Plant That Causes 3rd Degree Burns is Spreading

Giant Toxic Plant That Causes 3rd Degree Burns is Spreading”

Listed as a noxious weed in at least eight states, last week the giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) was spotted in Virginia for the first time.

The plant, a giant hogweed, was introduced to the United Kingdom and Europe in the late nineteenth century and to the U.S. in the early 20century, and its potential threat to people is the subject of research by Virginia Tech's Jennifer Gagnon.

Not only does the Giant Hogweed result in severe painful blisters and varying skin reactions, but when the sap comes in contact with a person's eyes, there are possible chances of blindness, as per the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Officials in Virginia are warning people to be on the lookout after an invasive plant was found in the Northern part of the state that can cause third-degree burns and blindness. "It does look similar to some other common weeds, but if you suspect it could be giant hogweed, protect yourself first before any further investigation". However, as reported, the population of this extremely unsafe plant could even be noticed in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The risky and invasive species Giant Hogweed continues its spread toward the Southeast.

But Sutphin adds that more noticeable than the height is the effect the plant's sap can have on you. One plant was found in Clarke. The stem of the plant reportedly has characteristic raised spots of red and dark purple color along with bristle-like hairs.

Several plants are often confused with giant hogweed, including cow parsnip, angelica, Queen Anne's lace, wild parsnip, and poison hemlock. The VT said about 30 of the large flowering plants were found.

"Giant hogweed reproduces by seed and spreads by seed dispersal, which can be aided by wind, water, people, and animals", Davis said.

Recent reports out of New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania all record sightings of giant hogweed, a tall member of the carrot family whose clear sap creates a phototoxin when exposed to moisture and sunlight. If anyone is trying to remove this plant, then they should remove it with physical removal or by use of herbicides.

If you do come in contact with the weed, you're advised to wash your hands immediately with cold water and get out of the sun before contacting a healthcare professional.

If sap gets into your eyes, rinse them and wear sunglasses.

If you think you've been burned by a reaction after coming into contact, see a physician immediately.

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