THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Pretoria sees spike in grass levels

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 14 January:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Low fungal spores, grasses, trees and weeds were seen during this hot, dry sampling week. The tree pollen was mostly eucalyptus (Myrtus) which is insect pollinated but these trees are flowering strongly in the Cape at present as well as very low numbers of white stinkwood (Celtis). Weed pollen detected was the daisy family (Asteraceae) and English Plantain (Plantago).

Count: 6 (moderate) 

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Grass counts decreased from those of the previous week, but occasional moderate counts were recorded. Tree levels were low and included: birch (Betula), olive (Olea), oak (Quercus), mulberry (Morea), eucalyptus (Myrtus) and plane (Platanus). Low weed levels included: goosefoot (Chenopod), the daisy family (Asteraceae) and English Plantain (Plantago). Mould levels were uniformly low.

Count: 8 (moderate) 

Pretoria (Gauteng)

Grass counts have increased and the levels were moderate to high throughout the sampling week. Tree pollen levels were low and sparse numbers of jacaranda (Fabaceae), Erythrina (coral tree), olive (Olea) and Casuarina (Australian pine) were detected. Weed counts were very low and consisted of Erica (Ericaceae), English Plantain (PLantago) and Stoebe, a large family of indigenous shrubs.

Count: 27 (high) 

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Grass levels increased sharply to moderate levels. Tree pollen was low and included acacia, sneezebush (Buddleja), cypress (Cupressus), eucalyptus (Myrtus), oak (Quercus)and olive (Olea). Weed pollen was similarly low and consisted of the daisy family (Asteraceae) and English Plantain (Plsantago). Mould levels were consistently low.

Count: 14 (moderate) 

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

Grass levels decreased but on warm, still days significant counts were detected. Low levels were detected for trees, namely acacia, white stinkwood (Celtis), olive (Olea) and Casuarina (Australian pine) and weeds, the daisy family (Asteraceae) and  goosefoot (Chenopod). The mean mould count was low, but significant scores were seen for Alternaria, an allergenic fungal spore, or mould.

Count: 7 (moderate) 

Durban (KZN)

Fungal spores increased to high levels again this week. Grasses also increased, although the average count was low. Tree pollen numbers were low and only mulberry (Morus) pollen was detected. Low weed pollen included ferns (Polypod) the daisy family (Asteraceae) and sorrel (Rumex).

Count: 7 (moderate) 

Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape)

Mould counts were low, but small spikes were seen for Cladosporium and ascospores. The tree levels were low and pollen detected included acacia, palm (Palmae), olive (Olea) , Rutaceae (the citrus family) and Casuarina (Australian pine). Weed pollen was also low and consisted of Protea and Erica.

Count: 1 (very 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.

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