Invasive plant that causes 3rd-degree burns, permanent blindness discovered in Virginia

Travis Fedschun – June 17, 2018

Officials in Virginia are warning residents to be on the lookout after an invasive plant was found Tuesday in the northern part of the state that can cause third-degree burns and even permanent blindness.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said in a Facebook post that 30 giant hogweed plants were discovered in Clarke County, located between Winchester and Leesburg.

The plant contains a very toxic sap, that when combined with sun exposure, can cause severe health hazards.

“In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which leads to a very bad sunburn,” according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. “Heat and moisture (sweat or dew) can worsen the skin reaction. The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact.”

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