An extremely dangerous plant, the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) started to spread in Hungary.
Giant hogweed has become a major concern for humans. Giant Hogweed will damage the skin or body if someone accidentally comes into contact with the clear, liquid sap of the plant. The sap can come from the broken leaves, roots, stems, or the flowers of the Giant Hogweed.
Since Giant Hogweed grows outdoors and when the sunlight and the sap mix, chemicals from the sap, called furocoumarins, cause a phototoxic reaction to take place called phytophotodermatitis. This causes major blistering, rashes, and scarring that last for years. If a person touches his/her eyes, they can even go blind. The pain and effects are not sudden, but develop over a period of three days. Since the effects can be very brutal, it is listed on the federal noxious weed list.
Given that the sun is a main component in causing these health effects, people who get the sap on them should cover up the spot on their skin until they are out of the sun. Once inside, they should wash it with soap and cold water and call a doctor. People also have to be very careful to cover up the spot that was exposed to the sap for the following months in case another reaction occurs.
Giant Hogweed spreads very fast. Many plants were found in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County during the last few days.