THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Cape Town allergy sufferers experience ongoing symptoms

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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 7 October:

Cape Town (Western Cape)

Grasses decreased to moderate levels in response to lower temperatures. High tree pollen levels were detected for cypress (Cupressaceae), gum (Myrtaceae) and pine (Pinaceae), while oak (Quercus sp.), palm (Arecaceae), birch (Betulaceae), cedar (Cedrus sp.), hackberry (Celtis sp.), olive (Oleaceae), mulberry (Moraceae), plane (Platanaceae) and the sumac family (Anacardiaceae) were found in low numbers.

Low weed levels included the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae), English plantain (Plantaginaceae), nettle (Urticaceae), erica (Ericaceae), dandelion (Taraxacum sp.), sorrel (Rumex sp.), ice plants (Aizoaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae) and protea (Proteaceae). Mould counts were low.

Count: 114 (very high) 

Johannesburg  (Gauteng)

Moderate tree counts, low weeds and low grasses were detected. Tree pollen included ash (Fraxinus sp.), mulberry (Moraceae), plane (Platanus sp.), birch (Betulaceae), bushwillow (Combretaceae), cypress (Cupressaceae), Australian pine (Casuarina sp.), hackberry (Celtis sp.), gum (Myrtaceae), pine (Pinaceae), poplar (Populus sp.), oak (Quercus sp.) karee (Rhus sp. / Searsia sp.) and linden (Tiliaceae) were seen.

The weed pollen detected were the daisy family (Asteraceae), the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), erica (Ericaceae), spurges (Euphorbiaceae), pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria sp.), mallows (Malvaceae) and fern spores (Polypodiaceae). Mould levels were low.

Count: 28 (high) 

Pretoria (Gauteng)

Grasses and weeds were low. Lower levels of tree pollen were seen including acacia (Acacia sp.), the sumac family (Anacardiaceae), ash (Fraxinus sp.), birch (Betulaceae), hackberry (Celtis sp.), bushwillow (Combretaceae), jacaranda (Jacaranda sp.), mulberry (Moraceae), gum (Myrtaceae), olive (Oleaceae), pine (Pinaceae), plane (Platanaceae), red milkwood (Mimuseps), yellowwood (Podocarpaceae) poplar (Populus sp.), oak (Quercus sp.), and Marula (Sclerocarya sp.). Weeds were very low and only sorrel (Rumex sp.) and knotweed (Polygonaceae) were detected. Moulds were low.

Count: 13 (moderate) 

Bloemfontein (Orange Free State)

Overall significant pollen counts were seen, with moderate levels of trees, weeds and grasses. Tree pollen included acacia (Acacia sp.), false olive (Buddleja sp.), bushwillow (Combretaceae), cypress (Cupressaceae), the pea family (Fabaceae), waxberry (Morella sp.), gum (Myrtaceae), olive (Oleaceae), mulberry (Moraceae), plane (Platanus sp.), pine (Pinaceae) and karee (Rhus sp. / Searsia sp.).

The weed pollen detected were mugwort (Artemisia sp.), aloes (Asphodelaceae), the daisy family (Asteraceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), erica (Ericaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae) and pigmyweeds (Crassula sp.). Mould counts were low.

Count: 42 (high) 

Kimberley (Northern Cape)

Moderate tree counts were seen during this sampling period. The tree pollen detected included a peak in bushwillow (Combretaceae) and the sumac family (Anacardiaceae), with lower levels of hackberry (Celtis sp.), cedar (Cedrus sp.), cypress (Cupressaceae), mulberry (Moraceae), gum (Myrtaceae), pine (Pinaceae), yellowwood (Podocarpaceae), plane (Platanus sp.), oak (Quercus sp.) and olive (Oleaceae) also present.

Low weed pollen counts included aloes (Asphodelaceae), the daisy family (Asteraceae), the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), nettles (Urticaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae) and buttercups (Ranunculaceae). Mould and grass levels were also low.

Count: 25 (high) 

Durban (KZN)

Grass and tree levels were low. Tree pollen types detected included palm (Arecaceae), hackberry (Celtis sp.), mulberry (Moraceae), pecan (Carya sp.), pine (Pinaceae), gum (Myrtaceae), Australian pine (Casuarina), acacia (Acacia sp.), plane (Platanaceae), birch (Betula sp.), cypress (Cupressaceae) and oak (Quercus sp.).

Low weed levels were found including protea (Proteaceae), the daisy family (Asteraceae), goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae), nettle (Urticaceae), sorrel (Rumex sp.), knotweed (Polygonaceae), erica (Ericaceae) and pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria sp.). Moulds were high as ascospores increased and small spikes weed detected for the allergenic fungal spores Epicoccum and Cladosporium.

Count: 9 (moderate) 

Gqeberha (Eastern Cape)

Count: 2 (low)

No grass pollen was detected during this sampling period. Low tree pollen included cypress (Cupressaceae), olive (Oleaceae) and pine (Pinaceae). Weed levels were low as katstert (Anthospermum sp.) erica/heather (Ericaceae), the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae) were detected. Moulds were 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 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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