What to do if you come into contact with wild parsnip

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MOLINE, Illinois -- People are being warned about a poisonous plant popping up around the Quad Cities and could put a major damper on your summer.

It's called wild parsnip.

It’s a poisonous weed that causes a painful rash and eats away at your skin. It looks very similar to a dill plant or Queen Anne's lace and grows about 4 feet tall.

“It’s very common out here in the ditches and the disturbed areas in the Quad Cities area. Rural areas are susceptible to wild parsnip. Any type of weedy fields will definitely have it,” says Ben Mills, head ranger with Loud Thunder Forest Preserve in Illinois City, Illinois. Mills also says chemicals in the wild parsnip react with sunlight and cause severe burns.

Wendy Prusha from Iowa became a victim of wild parsnip after gardening in her yard.

“I just got down in here and I was digging them up. It just bubbled up overnight -- the oils sit on your skin and it`s a constant burning,” said Prusha.

The Division of Natural Resources says patches of parsnip can be found in all 50 states.

So what happens if you become a victim?

“The first thing you want to do is get out of direct sunlight then wash the oils with a Dawn soap and try to get the oils off of you,” says Mills.

Experts say you can brush against wild parsnip without harm and it's only dangerous when sap oils inside the stem come in contact with skin.

The CDC says if your skin does start to burn from wild parsnip, immediately rinse it with rubbing alcohol.

Also keep it clean and apply an antibiotic cream while it heals.

Animals and other plants have not been shown to be affected by wild parsnip.

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