Toxic plant that burns skin, causes blindness spreading in U.S.

21 June, 2018, 23:43 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Science								Image Source debs-eye

Besides being a threat to humans, giant hogweed can also impact the environment. Other discoveries have prompted warnings after it was found across the Midwest, as well as in MI and NY.

The plant has been spotted in NY but also, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and parts of the Pacific Northwest.

"There have been reports from VDOT of sightings of Giant Hogweed in the Staunton area and Middlesex County", Isle of Wight County posted to Facebook.

According to Flessner, if you think you spot Giant Hogweed in the wild, don't panic.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed on Tuesday that giant hogweed, a toxic weed that can grow up to 15 feet tall and resembles the less unsafe cow parsnip, was identified at a private home in Clarke County.

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Giant hogweed is so unsafe because it releases a sap that contains chemicals called photosensitizing furanocoumarins.

In Ohio, giant hogweed is typically found in northeast Ohio, especially in counties bordering Pennsylvania.

Giant hogweed is native to Central and Southeast Asia. If the sap comes in contact with eyes, the Furocoumarins can cause temporary and potentially permanent blindness. Compresses soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture - available at pharmacies - can provide relief for skin irritations.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture urged anyone who believes they were in contact with Giant Hogweed to immediately wash the infected areas with soap and water. "This seems to be an isolated incident", said Virginia Tech's Michael Flessner, an assistant professor and extension weed science specialist. Giant hogweeds have also been known to plague Washington and Oregon. And if the sap gets in your eyes, rinse them out as soon as you can, put on sunglasses and call your doctor.

Environmental officials say if you want to remove the plant, do not use a weed-whacker, because the plant's sap can splatter and then spread quickly.

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