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Warning To Parents - Child Badly Burnt By Giant Hogweed

posted 6 Jun 2012, 07:24 by Communications TEAM   [ updated 6 Jun 2012, 07:33 ]
In the past week a three year old child was badly burnt by Giant Hogweed in the area of the Darn Walk. This invasive plant is present in many areas of Bridge of Allan but in particular in the area of the Alan Water and the railway line.  The Community Council have in previous years liaised with Stirling Council and Network Rail to have areas under their control sprayed and will do so again this year.  The Community Council would appeal to all landowners, individuals and business, who may have a plant or plants on their land to take immediate action to destroy any plants to prevent the spread of this invasive species.  

What is Giant Hogweed?

Giant Hogweed has a stout, dark reddish-purple stem and spotted leaf stalks that are hollow and produce sturdy bristles. Stems vary from 3–8 centimetres (1.2–3.1 in) in diameter, occasionally up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in).

Dangers - Giant Hogweed is a phototoxic plant. Its sap can cause phytophotodermatitis (severe skin inflammations) when the skin is exposed to sunlight or to UV-rays. Initially the skin colours red and starts itching. Then blisters form as it burns within 48 hours. They form black or purplish scars that can last several years. Hospitalisation may be necessary.[7] Presence of minute amounts of sap in the eyes can lead to temporary or even permanent blindness.[9] These reactions are caused by the presence of linear derivatives of furocoumarin in its leaves, roots, stems, flowers and seeds. These chemicals can get into the nucleus of the epithelial cells, forming a bond with the DNA, causing the cells to die. The brown colour is caused by the production of melanin by furocoumarins. In Germany, where this plant has become a real nuisance, there were about 16,000 victims in 2003[citation needed]. 

Children should be kept away from Giant Hogweed. Protective clothing, including eye protection, should be worn when handling or digging it. If skin is exposed, the affected area should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and the exposed skin protected from the sun for several days.[7]