Dog walker, 56, suffers horrific burns after brushing past toxic Giant Hogweed that thrives in hot weather

  • WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT 
  • Dog walker suffered burns after brushing against toxic Giant Hogweed
  • The plant thrives in hot weather and can cause severe burns and blisters  
  • Doctors have warned that he that he may feel the effects for months, if not years

A dog walker took horrifying photos that showed off the devastating burns he got after brushing against a Giant Hogweed. 

The walker, 56, was going on his usual route with his dog in the Gatley Carrs area in Stockport, on the morning of July 20. 

He began feeling a burning sensation hours after he brushed past the plant.


A Stockport dog walker, 56, took photos of the burns he got from a Giant Hogweed, a toxic plant that thrives in hot weather

Spraying Giant Hogweed plants with herbicides can be useful in controlling Giant Hogweed plants 

GIANT HOGWEED: THE DANGERS 

Giant hogweed sap contains toxic chemicals known as photosensitising furanocoumarins, which react with light when in contact with human skin, causing blistering within 48 hours.

Effectively the toxic sap prevents the skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which can lead to very bad sunburn and scarring.

If accidentally rubbed in the eyes, the sap can cause temporary or even permanent blindness. 

The Woodland Trust advises anyone who touches Giant Hogweed to wash the area thoroughly immediately.

You should also seek medical advice, and do not expose the area to sunlight for a few days.

The Woodland Trust state you should look out for the following: 

Stems: Green with purple blotches and stiff, white hairs. Stems are hollow with ridges and have a thick circle of hairs at base of each leaf stalk.

Leaves: Huge, up to 1.5m wide and 3m long and is deeply divided into smaller leaflets. It looks a bit like a rhubarb leaf, with irregular and very sharp or jagged edges – which has given rise to one of its other common names – wild rhubarb. The underside of the leaf is hairy.

Flowers: Appear in June and July. They are small and white (or slightly pink) and are clustered on umbrella-like heads known as umbels that can reach a diameter of 60cm. All the flowers on the umbel face upwards.

Seeds: Dry, flattened, and oval. Almost 1cm long with tan with brown lines extending 3/4 of the seed length.’

 

The Giant Hogweed, ‘Britain’s most dangerous plant’, thrives in hot weather and can cause serious injuries 

The burning from the plant had caused a rash by 3pm and then an ‘enormous’ angry blister two hours later. The walker then went to the walk-in centre at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. 

The man, who has asked not to be named, and his wife thought he was suffering from heat rash or a bite caused by a snack or insect. 

They realised he had come into contact with the Giant Hogweed after doing some internet research. 

The plant has been found on his dog walking route and his injuries match up with other burns caused by Giant Hogweed.

The resident told the Manchester Evening News: ‘I didn’t realise what I was dealing with. In fact, at first, I didn’t know what had caused the problem.

‘I thought it was a snake or insect bite, but I couldn’t remember being bitten.

‘The blister was growing as I was looking at it.

‘It wasn’t until days later we found images online of other people’s injuries from this plant, which were identical to my own. I went back to my route and found this plant growing next to the path where I had walked.

‘It is very easy to brush against it.’

Walk-in centre doctors burst the first blister, only for another to grow back.

The walker said he has been forced to go back to the doctors almost daily and will likely be feeling the effects for months, if not years.

He added: ‘I have been to the doctors almost every day since Tuesday, as the situation has progressed day on day.

‘For the first four days, my leg was swollen from my foot up to my knee.

‘I have been feeling nauseous and my skin has been sensitive generally.’

The toxic plant is a non-native invasive plant species, according to the Woodland Trust.

The plant can grow from 1.5 metres up to five metres tall – with a spread of between one and two metres – and particularly thrives in the warm temperatures that have hit the region this week.

Touching it causes severe burns and blistering on the skin that last for several months.

The sap of the weed, which looks like a giant version of the harmless plant cow parsley, is extremely toxic to humans and animals, causing horrific burns on the skin.

The skin remains sensitive to UV light for many years – and can even cause blindness if near the eyes.

Now, the victim is warning others to keep a look out for the plant, urging them to recognise its appearance and be aware of the harm it can cause.

‘People really need to be aware of this because it is really serious,’ he adds.

‘After researching online, I found that I could be sensitive to the sun for many years, which will impact on my life. 

‘Having a holiday in the future could be problematic because my skin will be so sensitive.’ 

The plant can be controlled very effectively with a simple, over the counter weed killer, said Mike Duddy, one of the country’s leading experts on giant hogweed.

‘The chemical is called glyphosate, the brand name is Round Up, it’s a simple, over-the-counter, B&Q weed killer. But people have to recognise the plants to identify it.’ 

Local authorities are also required to kill any plants they find growing in their area.  

Giant hogweed is now covered under ASBO legislation, Mr Duddy added.

Local authorities who find the plant growing on a person’s land can give them a fixed penalty fine of £100.

If this order is ignored, individuals can be fined up to £5,000 and organisations can be fined £20,000.

‘If this is growing in your garden it’s your responsibility to get rid of it’, Mr Duddy warned.

Those who see the plant growing in a public place should report it to the Environment Agency, through their website called Plant Tracker.

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