• Toxic weed that causes burns, blindness found in high country

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    WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. - Giant hogweed, a toxic plant that can cause blindness, has been found at six sites around Blowing Rock, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

    Watauga County is the only county in North Carolina where the invasive weed has been found.

    The weed's sap is dangerous to humans and can cause painful blisters or even blindness.

    Officials said giant hogweed has been quarantined in Watauga County. Plant pest specialists are continuing to try and get rid of it, and they have been surveying surrounding areas for additional populations.

    [PAST COVERAGE: Concerns that toxic weed which causes burns, blindness could spread to Carolinas]

    The weed has also been found in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, Washington and Virginia.

    In North Carolina, officials are asking anyone who thinks they have seen the plant to contact Dr. Bridget Lassiter at bridget.lassiter@ncagr.gov or (919) 707-3749. You can also report invasive species to the NCDA&CS by calling 1-800-206-9333 or by email at newpest@ncagr.gov.

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