THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Allergy sufferers in Johannesburg may experience bad hay fever as city experiences spike in tree pollen


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 6 August:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

No grass pollen was detected during this initially cold, dry period even though temperatures increased at the end of the sampling week. Tree pollen levels were generally low, but cypress increased and pine, gum, ash and oak pollen were observed.

Weed levels were low and included Erica, Rumex (sorrel), Stoebe (slangbos) and nettle. Moulds were low with small peaks for ascospores, and a small spike was detected for Pleospora, the wet weather spore.

Count: 13 (moderate) [Last week: 4 (low)]

Johannesburg (Gauteng)

Grass levels were consistently low at this site after a long flowering period. Tree pollen was high as significant scores for cypress and plane were detected and low levels for oak, gum, pine, birch, mulberry and Searsia/Rhus were observed.

Low weed levels included the types erica, the daisy family, ferns, goosefoot, Thymelaeaceae, a family of shrubs that includes the pompom tree, Euphorbia and Solanaceae, or nightshades. Moulds were low throughout the week.

Count: 33 (high) [Last week: 13 (moderate)]

Pretoria (Gauteng)

No grass pollen was detected during this sampling period. Tree pollen was low but is increasing as cypress, pine, willow and poplar begin their pollen release cycle. Weed pollen was also low and included nettle and Malvaceae, the mallow or mauve family. Moulds were consistently low.

Count: 5 (low) [Last week: 2 (very low)]

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Grasses remained at low levels during this sampling period but tree pollen increased and included: cypress, poplar, Buddleia and Searsia/Rhus. Weed pollen levels were very low and only one weed pollen grain was detected. This was Rutaceae, a group of aromatic indigenous and alien shrubs. Moulds were vanishingly low.

Count: 7 (moderate) [Last week: 6 (moderate)]

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

Grass, tree and weed pollen levels were all low. Tree types detected were cypress and white mulberry. The weeds included goosefoot and the daisy family. Moulds were low throughout the sampling period.

Count: 2 (very low) [Last week: 0 (very low)]

Durban (KZN)

Grass levels were low as were trees, but tree pollen increased as cypress, mulberry, pine, willow and gum began their spring pollen release cycle. Weed levels were low and only daisy, nettle and fern pollen were detected. Moulds were generally low but small spikes were noted for Epicoccum, an allergenic fungal spore.

Count: 6 (low) [Last week: 1 (very low)]

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Grass and tree levels were low. Tree pollen included gum and waxberry. Weeds were also low and included sedge, the daisy family, Stoebe (slangbos) and lilies. Moulds were consistently low with small insignificant spikes for ascospores.

Count: 3 (low) [Last week: 5 (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 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.

* Please note weekly pollen counts will be disrupted during the national lockdown and will intermittently be made available. We apologise for the inconvenience.

READ | Asthma, allergies, Covid-19 and your child: here’s what you need to know

WATCH | Can being 'too clean' cause allergies?

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

Image: Valiphotos from Pexels

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