FOX NEWS - Officials in Virginia are warning residents to be on the lookout after an invasive plant was found Tuesday in the northern part of the state that can cause third-degree burns and even permanent blindness.
The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said in a Facebook post that 30 giant hogweed plants were discovered in Clarke County, located between Winchester and Leesburg.
The plant contains a very toxic sap, that when combined with sun exposure, can cause severe health hazards.
"In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which leads to a very bad sunburn," according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. "Heat and moisture (sweat or dew) can worsen the skin reaction. The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact."
The sap can cause painful blisters that can form and become "dark and pigmented," and scars that can last up to six years, according to the NYDEC.
If the sap gets into the eye, it can even lead to blindness.
Environmental officials in Virginia said that while there has just been one confirmed case in Clarke County, they are warning residents in other parts of the state to stay alert for potential sightings.