A STRABANE family has this week warned over the dangers of Giant Hogweed, after an 11-year-old boy sustained a nasty burn.
Finn Griffin was playing among the trees near the river at Sion Mills when his arm came into contact with the toxic plant.
However it wasn’t until several days later that the danger of the encounter was fully revealed.
Speaking this week, Finn’s mum, Caroline said that whilst her son has recovered from his burn, it nevertheless required hospital treatment.
“It was up at Sion by the river, that it happened,” she explained. “He was in playing among the trees. That was a Wednesday.
“The next day it was a great day and so he was outside a lot.
“On the Friday he woke up with a blister and as the day went on it got worse and worse. I had my suspicions so I took him to see my mum. She said it looked like a hogweed burn. I would have heard my mother talk about it before then. She was always talking about it and warning us to watch out for it.
“On the Saturday then it was going up his arm and it looked bad.”
The sap of giant hogweed can cause burns. It contains furocoumarin, which makes skin extremely sensitive to sunlight (phytophotodermatitis). If the sap gets onto the skin, then a person is exposed to sun, the skin can blister badly and blistering can recur over months and even years. This is known as phytotoxicity.
“We went to the pharmacist and they said we’d be better going to out-of-hours. It looked like a really bad burn at this point,” Caroline continued.
The family ended up going to A&E although they were surprised to learn that only one nurse had ever encountered Giant Hogweed burns.
“No-one in the hospital had really heard about it,” the local mother remarked. “I was telling the first nurse it was a hogweed burn but she’d never heard of it.
“They were brilliant though. They said it was a bad burn and they X-rayed it just in case there was something sinister underneath.
“He was down twice that day to get it redressed. And he’s been left with a big red blotch. It was lucky it wasn’t his face.
“The thing that struck me was that only one nurse known anything about it. They were very good, though.”
Finn also received an antibiotic in case of infection but apart from slight pain and the remaining blotch, he isn’t any the worse for wear.
“It wasn’t overly sore. It was on the point of his wrist so when he moved his wrist he complained.
“I think we were just happy that we got it looked at when we did.”
This week a spokesperson for council explained that it is the responsibility of the land owner to control these species.
They said, “Council conduct surveys, management plans and implement control programmes, where invasive species are growing on council property. We would urge private landowners to control these harmful species to minimize the risk they pose to the public.”
For further information on Giant Hogweed visit invasivespeciesireland.com