Updated 10 December 2019

THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Much lower levels countrywide

Levels are much lower countrywide, except for Port Elizabeth, with a shift to moderate - where unique species of shrub pollens were found in the trap.

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 21 November:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

The Cape Town spore trap is running again. Fungal spores increased in response to some overnight rain. Ascospores increased and a small spike was seen for Rust spores.  Grasses were low, trees were similarly low (eucalyptus, cypress and white stinkwood) and a few weed pollen grains were detected. These were: English Plantain and Euphorbia.

Count: 5 (low) [Last week: 16 (moderate)]

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Fungal spores were low but spikes were seen for Cladosporium indicating an increase in humidity. Trees levels were low and included: birch, bush willow, ash, mulberry, eucalyptus, pine, yellowwood and plane. Grasses were very low. Weed levels were low and included: English Plantain, daisy, Apiaceae (shrubs of the carrot and celery family), Parietaria and the indigenous shrub Stoebe.

Count: 6 (moderate) [Last week: 6 (moderate)]

Pretoria (Gauteng)

Fungal spore loads were low but are increasing, especially Cladosporium levels. Pollen levels were low. Grass levels were low. Weeds were low and included, daisy, English Plantain, Prunus and ferns. Tree pollen was also low and included: birch, bush willow, jacaranda, oak, cypress, ash, mulberry, eucalyptus, yellowwood and Rhus/Searsia.

Count: 5 (low) [Last week: 26 (high)]

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

The fungal spore levels were very low. Pollen levels were similarly low and included low levels of grasses and trees including: olive, eucalyptus, white stinkwood, buddleja and oak. Weed pollen included goosefoot.

Count: 12 (moderate) [Last week: 9 (moderate)]

Kimberly (Northern Cape)

All pollen and fungal spore levels were low, yet there is clearly more moisture in the atmosphere as Cladosporium is beginning to appear in clumps. Pollen levels were low, with a constant low presence of grasses. Acacia pollen was detected in the category of trees; and Euphorbia pollen appeared regularly for the category: weeds and shrubs, along with English Plantain.

Count: 2 very low [Last week: 2 (very low)]

Durban (KZN)

Part of the strip was lost during this sampling week so the counts have been extrapolated from previous weeks and this week’s weather parameters. Fungal spore levels are lower than previous weeks but are still at moderate levels. Pollen levels are low and include low grass counts, birch and mulberry tree and the weed pollen: Daisy and English Plantain.

Count: 2 (very low) [Last week: 3 (very low)]

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

The fungal spore levels were low. Pollen levels were also low, but  new species were identified. In the category: Trees, only olive pollen was detected. In the weed/shrub category, Iridaceae, rarely seen at other sites was detected and Hermannia, a fynbos shrub that has not previously been identified from other sites was seen.

Count: 16 (moderate) [Last week: 4 (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.

Image credit: Valentin Hermann, Unsplash


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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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