Posted by Brandon Jarvis
*Update*: Earlier this week we reported on a story about a man possibly coming into contact with the Hogweed plant. We noted that tests were being run to determine if in fact it was the Hogweed plant that caused the burns and blisters. The tests however, only showed that certain bacteria was present in the wounds that most people have on their skin. The hospital did not have the ability to test and see if a Hogwood plant was in fact responsible for the burns. Read the original story below.
Headlines in the past week have been scary when referencing the giant Hogweed — its sap can scar, burn and blind if you come in contact with it. In fact, the recent discovery of the plant in Virginia is the first confirmation of it in the state.
Doctors believe that an 18-year-old of Colonial Heights may have come in contact with the dangerous plant. He believes he was exposed to it in the Whitebank Landing neighborhood of Colonial Heights.
The victim spoke with Richmond 2day: “I was first exposed to it on Thursday, blisters formed Thursday night into Friday. And progressively got worse over the weekend. Since it was just found in Va, all the doctors were dumbfounded – no one knew what it was or how to treat it.
He said said their were about 10 nurses in his room using the internet trying to do research and find out exactly what it was. “They still didn’t know. Then the doctor came in, and he said he believes it’s from the hogweed plant, so they sent it off for testing to make sure.”
“It’s essentially trying to punish animals for eating it,” says Jordan Metzgar, who curates Virginia Tech’s Massey Herbarium and helped identify the state’s newest invasive plant.
Doctors have to wait for test results that come in later this week, but they believe the burns are from the Hogweed plant.
Hogweed is native to the Caucasus Mountains and Southwest Asia, and was brought to the United States for use as an ornamental plant around 1917, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. It has been found in Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont and Washington, CBS News reported
For anyone who accidentally touches giant hogweed, Metzgar advises thoroughly rinsing their skin with cold water and soap to wash away the furocoumarins before they penetrate skin cells. If that’s not possible, covering up the exposure site and avoiding sun or other ultraviolet light exposure for a couple of days can stop furocoumarins from binding to DNA, preventing a burn.