Regional Specific Pollen and Fungal Spore Allergens in South Africa
The selection of skin-prick and ImmunoCAP radioallergosorbent test (RAST) testing panels for tree, grass, weed and fungal spore aeroallergens is an easier task when pollen and fungal spore levels for the particular geographic area are accessible to the allergologist. In South Africa, long-term pollen and fungal spore level information exists for the Western Cape, where several areas in the greater Cape Town Metropole have been monitored. In Gauteng, sporadic pollen sampling studies have been carried out in the vicinity of Johannesburg and Pretoria. In KwaZulu-Natal, short-term studies have sampled airspora in Durban and Richards Bay, and a 3-year pollen and fungal spore assessment has been conducted in Secunda, Mpumalanga. These findings are examined in relation to the choice of allergen testing panels. There are vast unsampled areas of South Africa, containing major cities, where the major pollen allergens and their levels in the atmosphere are not known, and in addition, there is great variation in climate across these areas. Climate dictates the vegetation biome as well as the flowering times of allergenic plants. Guidelines for the selection of allergen testing panels in clinical settings, where no pollen monitoring exists, are discussed.