A WARNING has been issued about a highly toxic plant that has left a group of schoolchildren with burns.

The incident comes less than a year after four other teenagers, including the second cousin of one of the children affected this time, suffered severe injuries after also coming into contact with giant hogweed.

Declan Davies was with his friends on a country path off Raikes Lane on Saturday when they inadvertently touched the dangerous plant.

The 12-year-old, of Blenheim Road, Breightmet, and two other boys have since developed blisters on their arms and legs and have been told to stay out of direct sunlight.

Last year, Declan's second cousin, Conor Knott, was among a group of Harper Green School pupils who were left with severe burns when they came across the plant in Moses Gate Country Park. His family were able to contact Declan's parents, Paul and Jacqueline, on Monday after they saw photos of his injuries on Facebook.

Mr Davies, aged 35, said: "Declan was in school on Monday when it first showed up and he was taken to the school nurse. They phoned my wife and then took him to the doctor, who thought it was an allergic reaction.

"I didn't think that was right so we went back down to the area where it happened and found they had been running around in hogweed.

"We put some pictures on Facebook and my cousin, Annette, said she recognised it after Conor's burns from the hogweed last year.

"The advice we have been given is to stay out of direct sunlight for 48 hours and carry on taking antihistamines. He has also been told not to pop the blisters himself because it might cause an infection.

"It can lay dormant on your skin for a month, so you have to be really careful with it. For the moment he is bedroom-bound with his curtains closed."

The St Catherine's Academy pupil has been forced to stay home from school this week and is due to see a doctor again today. His sister, 14-year-old Kaitlyn, has also noticed a mark on her arm but has not suffered more severe symptoms.

The youngster said he and his friends didn't recognise the plant and that there were no signs in the area to warn members of the public about it.

Conor, aged 13, is continuing his recovery from the severe burns to his arms and legs suffered in July 2015.

His dad, Herbie Knott, of Carlton Street, Farnworth, said: "I think Conor is probably going to be scarred for life. The problem going forward will be protecting him from UV radiation. His burns were really severe, but he is probably 90 per cent back to normal.

"My wife saw the photos of Declan on Facebook and knew it looked like hogweed.

"It is a really dangerous plant, and Conor's situation was exacerbated by the fact that the hospital didn't have any experience of it.

"I don't think it will ever be common enough in this country for doctors to recognise is straight away."

Mr Davies added: "It's unbelievable that it can happen twice in the same family.

"When we were kids we used to run through forests and fields and never came across anything like this.

"It's absolutely rife in the area and right where kids will be walking along. There were broken off pieces of hogweed lying on the floor as well.

"It looked like some kids had been trying to build structures down there, and they could have been using the hogweed without knowing it.

"People need to be educated about it. If nobody knows, then kids are going to come home covered in blisters."

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “We were very sorry to hear of the injuries to these children caused by giant hogweed.

"We have spoken to the parents of one of the children and it appears this plant may not be on our land. We are investigating further.

"Our policy is to immediately treat all instances of accessible giant hogweed on our land to remove its presence.

"We are also currently carrying out a treatment on council land where giant hogweed was reported in the past, in order to limit its spread this year.

"We will continue to remove any accessible giant hogweed on council land as soon as it is reported, and would like to encourage the public to report any instances of what they believe to be giant hogweed on council land to neighbourhoodservicesinbox@bolton.gov.uk or by calling 01204 336632.”