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Utah preschoolers end up in emergency room after touching toxic plant during school event

Evie Stapley.jpg
Posted at 6:11 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 20:16:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — What was supposed to be a fun activity for two Salt Lake City preschoolers ended with a trip to the emergency room, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

While on a class nature "scavenger hunt" last week, the students took leaves from a myrtle spurge, a poisonous, invasive plant.

Monica Stapley told the Tribune that when she picked up her 4-year-old daughter Evie from school on March 30, she had a bag of plants and unusually rosy cheeks. Evie also complained to her mother that her eyes hurt.

Myrtle Spurge Collected by Evie Stapley.jpg

Sap from the myrtle spurge causes rashes, inflammation and possibly blindness.

Stapley took her daughter to the emergency room later that night after Evie's eyes had swelled. After being told it was a virus, Evie awoke the next morning with her entire face swollen and blisters on her face and hands.

Members of a Facebook gardening group that saw photos Stapley had posted of the plants Evie had collected identified the myrtle spurge.

Evie Stapley.jpg
Evie Stapley

Other children experienced milder symptoms after touching the plant during the scavenger hunt, with one child also being taken to the emergency room.

“We need a lot more public education about this plant, considering that none of the teachers and none of the ER doctors or nurses suspected this,” Stapley told the Tribune. “I have nothing but respect for the teachers, they love these kids like their own, and would never intentionally put them in harm’s way. They just did not know. They were only gathering items in landscaped areas near their building.”

Myrtle Spurge.jpg
Myrtle Spurge