Two male teens ended up being admitted to the hospital when they suffered from severe blistering of the skin after they came in contact with a toxic weed that now commonly grows on the river banks and canal paths of the UK.
Reid Daley, 13, and his two friends, all of whom from Bolton, were in Moses Gate Park when they encountered a patch with giant hogweeds and played in the area. By the next morning, Reid woke up with skin rashes that turned into severely painful blisters the more he was exposed to the sun. This eventually landed him in the hospital, where his back and arms were heavily bandaged. One of his friends also contracted the same blisters.
The admission of the two boys has caused the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust expert Mike Duddy to call the weed as the most dangerous plant in the UK. He is also reiterating the call to the government to control and eventually eradicate the weeds, which are currently growing and spreading in massive numbers.
According to its website, the giant hogweed is a poisonous type of plant that can grow as high as 4 meters. It has prominent flowers that look like umbrellas and are colored white. Because they can look attractive, children may easily get drawn to them.
The plant used to be rare, but it has already been found in many places in Greater Manchester, especially around the canals and river pathways. Each plant can create up to 80,000 seeds.
The irritant, however, is the sap, which is found in the stem, as well as the hairs that grow in the stem. A person who comes in contact with the hairs, even by merely touching dogs and objects with the hairs, can already develop the rashes and blisters.
The blisters tend to worsen the more a person is exposed to the sun. It may take as long as half a year for the burns to eventually heal. However, they may return within the next 6 years as exposure to sunlight can reactivate the toxic substance in the body.