LIFESTYLE

Giant Hogweed Plant Leaves Five Children With Severe Burns

10/07/2015 11:40 BST | Updated 10/07/2015 15:59 BST

Five children have suffered severe burns and one has been scarred for life, all because they brushed against a plant.

The toxic plant, known as giant hogweed, was found growing in two separate parks in the UK.

Annie Challinor, seven, has been left with a permanent scar on her arm after she touched the plant during a family walk in Clifton Country Park, Greater Manchester.

Meanwhile four teenage boys have suffered from burns after coming into contact with hogweed in Moses Gate Country Park, Bolton.

annie challinor hogweed

Annie Challinor

Giant hogweed sap contains toxic chemicals which are known as furanocoumarins.

According to Royal Horticultural Society, when these chemicals come into contact with skin and are exposed to sunlight, a reaction occurs called phytophotodermatitis.

This usually results in reddening of the skin which is often followed by severe blistering and burns.

Additionally, if the sap gets into a person's eyes it can cause temporary - or even permanent - blindness.

Injuries sustained from giant hogweed can also last for several months, with some areas of skin remaining sensitive to light for years.

giant hogweed plant

Giant hogweed plant

Challinor will now be scarred for life after a burn on her arm blistered. Two of the boys, Conor Knott and Reid Daley, both 13, required hospital treatment for their injuries.

Mathew Cocklin, Reid's stepfather, said the teenager was "screaming in agony" by Monday night after coming into contact with the plant on Saturday.

"Since Tuesday morning he has had to take eight blister tablets in one go, ibuprofen and pain killers. He said 'I want to die, stop this pain from hurting'," he added, according to the MailOnline.

Annie Challinor's mother, Rebecca, said: "They [doctors] told us she will be left with a permanent scar and that bit of skin will re-blister every time it is exposed to sunlight, so it's total sunblock for life on that bit of skin."

hogweed burn

Conor Knott's burns

According to the ITV News, a spokesperson from Bolton council said: "We were very sorry to hear of the injuries to four children caused by giant hogweed in Moses Gate Country Park.

"Our policy, which follows the DEFRA code of practice, is to immediately treat all instances of giant hogweed on our land to remove its presence.

"As soon as we were made aware of this plant by one of the parents of the children, we began treatment to remove it."

United Utilities, who own the land the Clifton Country Park is found on, have said they are investigating is issue.

This is the second time giant hogweed has made headlines recently.

Last month, gardener Dean Simmons was left in "pure agony" after he brushed against the plant and came out in huge blisters.

He was left with burns that doctors said could take months to heal.

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