BREAKING NEWS Gunshots fired at Broadway and 20th Street in Chico Full Story

Brush with toxic plant burns teen's face

Alex Childress went to his parents for help with what he thought was a severe sunburn after working outside at his summer landscaping job. The first- and second-degree burns turned out to be something a little more unusual.

Posted: Jul 16, 2018 8:14 AM
Updated: Jul 16, 2018 8:46 AM

Alex Childress went to his parents for help with what he thought was a severe sunburn after working outside at his summer landscaping job.

But the real cause of the painful first- and second-degree burns suffered by the 17-year-old from Spotsylvania, Virginia, turned out to be something a little more unusual.

"We were working outside a factory and I snipped down a bush and it fell and touched my face," Childress told CNN affiliate WWBT. "I didn't pay any mind to it because I do it all the time."

The plant in question was a toxic giant hogweed.

Childress' mother, Chrissy Childress, is a nurse at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center and suspected the plant might be the irritant. Her son was transferred to the center's burn unit, after first being taken to the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

Once there, he was instructed to shower for an hour and a half. He stayed in an unlit hospital room for two days, as the plant is phototoxic, meaning it gets more potent when exposed to ultraviolet rays or sunlight. He has since been discharged from the hospital.

Facts about the plant

The plant is native to the Caucasus mountains in the country of Georgia and parts of southwest Asia.

Researchers believe the species was planted in the United States intentionally a few decades ago, according to spokeswoman Elaine Lidholm of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It has since been been discovered in several states.

"There's been detection in Virginia, but we're just now realizing it's been here for some time," Lidholm told CNN.

Giant hogweed is classified by the agency as a noxious weed, a type of plant that outgrows native species and often infiltrates their habitats. The seeds can lie dormant for several years, but Lidholm said a cooler, longer spring caused its increased activity.

There have been confirmed sightings of giant hogweed in three Virginia counties: Rockingham, Clarke and Fauquier. The plant can grow as high as 15 feet and white flowers fan out at the top. The Virginia Department of Agriculture recommends that anyone who thinks they may have spotted a plant leave it alone and contact the agency.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 928028

Reported Deaths: 17618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3063277056
Riverside680501319
San Bernardino643671074
Orange597181475
San Diego56369888
Kern34154422
Fresno31321443
Sacramento26018500
Santa Clara24867406
Alameda23775463
San Joaquin21994492
Contra Costa18981246
Stanislaus17872401
Tulare17800292
Ventura14486166
Imperial13038338
San Francisco12320147
Monterey1161695
San Mateo11341161
Santa Barbara9919126
Sonoma9646136
Merced9623155
Kings850283
Solano763476
Marin7121127
Madera509476
Placer435359
San Luis Obispo426532
Yolo326660
Butte314353
Santa Cruz286125
Shasta204631
Napa200916
Sutter189712
San Benito146115
El Dorado13804
Yuba134610
Mendocino115621
Tehama9259
Lassen7721
Lake70417
Glenn6823
Nevada6358
Humboldt57110
Colusa5556
Calaveras34721
Amador33816
Tuolumne2886
Inyo24115
Siskiyou2210
Mono1822
Del Norte1811
Mariposa812
Plumas790
Modoc480
Trinity280
Alpine80
Sierra60
Unassigned00
Chico
Few Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 68°
Oroville
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 74°
Paradise
Few Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 68°
Chester
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 64°
Red Bluff
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 80°
Willows
Few Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 68°
We're closing out the month of October on a beautiful note weather-wise over northern California with plenty of sunshine and above-average temperatures. Halloween will bring slightly warmer temperatures and more sunshine.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events