20 March 2020

THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Allergy sufferers experience ongoing symptoms in the Highveld region

Despite rains in the North West, grass counts remain high and could cause ongoing symptoms in the Highveld area.

Amid the highest recorded pollen counts in history, Health24 will be bringing you exclusive pollen count updates courtesy of the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

Here are the major city updates for 12 March:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Grass pollen levels were very low during this period. Trees were similarly low and only white stinkwood (Celtis) was detected. Weeds were also low, consisting of goosefoot and the daisy family. Moulds were very low.

Count: 1 (vey low) [Last week: 5 (low)]

Johannesburg (Gauteng)

Grass concentrations were higher throughout this sampling week occurring at the rate of >20 per day. Trees were very low and included the types: cypress, pine, eucalyptus and birch. Weeds were low and only goosefoot and the daisy family were detected. Moulds were low.

Count: 37 (high) [Last week: 31 (high)]

Pretoria (Gauteng)

Grass concentrations were moderate to high throughout the week again occurring at the rate of >10 per day.  Trees were low but diverse and included jacaranda, white mulberry and bush willow. Low weed concentrations included: goosefoot and the daisy family. Moulds were low.

Count: 21 (high) [Last week: 35 (high)]

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Grass counts were high, tree and weed pollen in the air was low and fungal spore loads were generally moderate again excepting the fungal spore Alternaria. High levels were consistently detected for this mould/fungal spore. Weed levels were low and only English Plantain and goosefoot were detected.

Count: 62 (very high) [Last week: 135 (very high)]

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

The grass level was high despite rain on four of the sampling days. Tree and weed pollen levels were very low. One eucalyptus (gum) and one kareeboom (Rhus/Searsia) pollen grain were detected. Weeds were also extremely low, with just one fern spore seen in the atmosphere. Moulds were low but ascospore levels increased after rain.

Count: 65 (very high) [Last week: 58 (very high)]

Durban (KZN)

Grass levels were high, having increased since last week. Tree loads were also high, exceeding the critical limit. Moderate birch and low Eucalyptus counts were recorded. Weed levels were low, with ragweed absent for the first time in several weeks. Moulds were low relative to last week.

Count: 27 (high) [Last week: 22 (high)]

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

The grass pollen level was extremely low, as was the tree level. Tree types detected were white stinkwood and waxberry. No weed pollen was detected throughout the week. Mould levels were generally low, but a strong spike for ascospores was seen on March 9.

Count: 0 (very low) [Last week: 6 (low)

See the full report HERE.

Reference ranges:

Overall, Trees, Grasses and Weeds all use the same values (grains per cubic metres of air).

Overall count is the daily average of pollen grains per cubic metres of air (trees plus grasses plus weeds).

In partnership with the the UCT Lung Institute's Allergy and Immunology Unit.

As the pollen problem worsens, precise and expanded monitoring becomes even more essential. And here's how you can help.

WATCH | Is it the flu, allergies or the new coronavirus? Here’s how to tell the difference

WATCH | Can being 'too clean' cause allergies?

WATCH | Behind the scenes: How spore traps in SA are used to determine the pollen count

Image: PeopleImages/Getty


Ask the Expert

Allergy expert

Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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