Concerns that toxic weed which causes burns, blindness could spread to Carolinas

New concerns toxic weed that causes burns, blindness could spread to Carolinas

MINT HILL, N.C. — Giant Hogweed is a voracious plant, and there are new concerns it could spread to North Carolina.

The weed is extremely dangerous to humans and can cause blisters that scar or even lead to blindness.

What are the symptoms?

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  • Painful blisters that form within 48 hours and become dark and pigmented
  • Scars that last up to six years, though typically only last a few months
  • Long-term sensitivity to sunlight is common
  • Blindness may occur if the sap gets into the eyes

Experts say Giant Hogweed is on a federal noxious weed list and possessing it in the U.S. is illegal.

It’s been known to grow in Watauga County.

“The reason people should be concerned is because of its aggressive nature,” horticultural supervisor at UNC Charlotte, Edward Davis, said.

Davis said the plant’s invasive nature means it takes over the natural habitat of native plants.

"I would advise to make sure they identify correctly,” Davis said.

Experts want the public to take any sightings seriously.

What should you do if you're exposed?

  • Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and cold water as soon as possible
  • Keep exposed area away from sunlight for 48 hours
  • If a reaction occurs, topical steroids applied early can reduce the severity of the reaction and ease discomfort
  • If sap goes in eyes, rinse them with water and wear sunglasses
  • If a reaction has occurred, the area of skin may be sensitive to sunlight for a few years and you may want to apply sunblock or keep the affected area covered from the sun when possible
  • See a physician if you have a reaction or any questions

“This thing was massive and huge,” Mint Hill resident John-Marc Grob said. He spotted a plant he believed may be Giant Hogweed around from his house.

Channel 9 sent pictures of the plant to the Department of Agriculture Tuesday. Officials said they do not believe it is Giant Hogweed, but it is in the same family.

If you spot anything that appears to look like the weed contact the Department of Agriculture.

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