Dead Sea medical tourism: an allergological point of view
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A 1-year study was conducted, with the aim to investigate the airborne allergens around the Dead Sea (DS), identify and quantify airborne pollen and spores in the DS region, and determine the different sensitization prevalence among various population groups to these aeroallergens. According to results, we also aimed to define “safe seasons” when there are no or only few aeroallergens in the atmosphere that surrounds the Dead Sea. A Rotorod and a Hirst trap were used for continuous monitoring of pollen and spores which were then identified. Sensitization to aeroallergens was assessed by skin prick tests (SPT) in three groups of allergic residents: foreign tourists, Israeli tourists, and local workers from the hotel industry. Air around the DS is by no means free of aeroallergens, 50 pollen and 43 mold types were identified. Pollen was from native plants, imported ornamentals, and others transported by winds from long distances. Overall pollen concentrations were lower around the Dead Sea than in the Tel Aviv region, but in certain months, they were higher around the DS. Marked seasonal variations in pollen and spore dispersal were observed. By SPT, hypersensitivity to Chenopodiaceae, Amaranthaceae, Cupressus, Solidago, Poaceae, Olea, Artemisia as well as molds such as Alternaria and Aspergillus, was found. As assessed by SPT, some of tourists and permanent residents are allergic to pollen, molds, and house dust mites. The presented study enables one to denote “safe” seasons when the concentration of airborne allergens is below “allergenic risk”: June–August and November–February. These seasons are the most suitable for allergic medical tourists.
KeywordsAerobiology Dead Sea Sensitization Tourism
The authors wish to thank Professor Michael L. Muilenberg, Aerobiology Instruction and Research, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA for his critical comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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