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Spring hayfever season to be worst in years due to winter rain, experts say

Simon Leo Brown, Wednesday August 31, 2016 - 13:50 EST
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Above-average winter rainfall will lead to a worse-than-average hayfever season. - ABC

A wet winter is set to give way to a sneezy spring in south-eastern Australia, with this hayfever season predicted to be the worst in years.

Experts have warned the winter rains will have caused increased grass growth, meaning more pollen in the air in the coming months.

This year Australia had its seventh wettest July on record according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Melbourne University botanist Associate Professor Ed Newbigin said lean rainfall in previous years meant there had not been much grass pollen around.

"This year will be different — people will notice their symptoms and think it is probably the worst season ever," he told 's Red Symons.

"It's probably not the worse season ever, but it is certainly worse than the past few seasons that we've had."

Approximately one in eight Australians suffer from hayfever, according to Dr Newbigin said.

'Most misery' to come in October, November

University of Western Sydney immunologist Professor Connie Katelaris said while some people started getting hayfever in early spring, their symptoms tended to worsen as the season progressed.

"It's the grass pollen season that causes most misery," she told 's Robbie Buck.

"If you've got symptoms now, you should be dealing with that in a preventative way."

Dr Newbigin said grasslands across western Victoria were growing well, which was bad news for those with pollen allergies.

"We've had a pretty good season, good winter rains and so on, and that's going to contribute to the grass growth," he said.

"In a month's time or so that will start to flower and that will be releasing huge amounts of pollen, and that pollen is going to be blown into Melbourne."

Professor Katelaris said October and November were the peak months for grass pollen in Sydney.

Wattle not to blame for symptoms



September 1 is Wattle Day and there was no reason for hayfever sufferers to refrain from celebrating the national emblem, Dr Newbigin said.

"You don't need to blame the wattles," he said, adding that it was generally European trees that caused hayfever at this time of year.

"It's the plants where you can't see the flowers, or they're very small and not noticeable, which are producing huge amounts of pollen.

"That's the pollen which is carried on the wind and that's the stuff which usually gives us hayfever."


- ABC

© ABC 2016

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