Eradication of weed Parthenium

A steady increase in the incidence of nasal allergy in Bangalore, suspected to be related to the spread of Parthenium. In previous studies, it has been established that the Parthenium pollen is present in significantly high amounts in Bangalore Atmosphere and is a source of allergic Rhinitis. It is also found that air borne Parthenium pollen causes allergic Contract Dermatitis. Thus it was felt necessary to determine the incidence of naso-brochial allergy in Bangalore population and the role of Parthenium, house dust, etc., in the manifestation of respiratory and skin allergies.

During the 'Open Days' at the Indian Institute of Science (March 2-4, 1985) in connection with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Institute, general public visited various Departments. This opportunity was utilized to conduct, with the help of two clinicians and research students, a random survey of the urban population to determine the incidence of naso-bronchial allergy as well as sensitivity or Parthenium pollen and house dust mite, two dominant air borne allergens in Bangalore.

A booth was set up at the entrance of the Biochemistry Department where 2000 visitors volunteered to participate in this survey. They included school children, college students, housewives, persons employed in various jobs and retired people.

The study of population hailed from different residential areas of Bangalore and represented different economic groups. Thirty percent of the randomly selected persons are females.

After obtaining a brief clinical history on a printed proforma, they were subjected to skin tests to determine their sensitivity to Parthenium pollen and house dust mite. The skin reactions were read and recorded at the exit point where the subjects reached in about 20 minutes. The clinical data thus obtained is being statistically analysed. However, a preliminary examination of the clinical history and allergy skin tests revealed the following:

Thirty percent of the test subjects gave clinical history suggestive of bronchial Asthma. About twenty percent of the survey group complained of nasal problems, mostly rhinitis, characterized by sneezing, watery eyes, running and/or blocked nose. Of the total populations, 5.8 percent and 4.6 percent of the persons suffering from Rhinitis were sensitive respectively to Parthenium pollen and house dust mite as evaluated by allergy skin tests. An additional 33 percent of the population with no clinical symptoms of Rhinitis or Asthma also exhibited positive skin reaction to Parthenium pollen. None of the persons suffering from bronchial Asthama who did not have concurrent symptoms of allergic Rhinitis were sensitive to Parthenium pollen.

All those persons with a clinical history of Asthama or Rhinitis as well as some randomly selected normal subjects from the survey populations are being contacted fro detailed examination by in vivo and in vitro allergy tests. Patients suffering from Parthenium Rhinitis will be put on specific immunotherapy and the progression of desensitization will be evaluated periodically by monitoring clinical improvement and by measuring the levels of Parthenium-specific IgE and IgG antibodies in their sera.