BACKGROUND: Ambrosia is an annual anemophilous weed producing allergenic pollen affecting public health in European countries. In Italy, the most infested region is Lombardy where, in some areas, it is the major cause of hay fever. In the Parma district, until 2007, Ambrosia seemed to be very rare, despite an observed increase of Seasonal Pollen Index (SPI), of pollen peak value and of asthma among ragweed sensitized patients. The aims of this study were to calculate ragweed pollen season and trends from 1996 to 2015, to assess the relationships between pollen season characteristics and selected meteorological data, to map plants in the territory and to evaluate the presence of beetle Ophraella communa (Ophraella), known as an eater of Ambrosia leaves. METHODS: The following pollination parameters: start, end, duration, peak concentration date, peak values, SPI and the following climatic parameters: temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, were analyzed. The ragweed plants sites were mapped and the presence of Ophraella was assessed during naturalistic activities. RESULTS: Significant SPI and pollen peak value increase until 2011 were observed, but recently, 2012-2015 vs 2009-2011, a strong reduction (about 50%) of these parameters was observed. The spring average air temperature increased significantly. The results of the correlation analysis showed Ambrosia season characteristics significantly related. We identified the sites source of Ambrosia, even downtown at the confluence between Parma and Baganza rivers. Ophraella was observed for the first time in 2014. CONCLUSIONS: The results showed the spread of ragweed plants over the territory and the risk of allergy increase that ragweed could cause. It remains to evaluate the role of the Ophraella in the reduction of Ambrosia pollen concentration. It is important to consider the potential risk Ophraella may represent for sunflower and other taxonomically related crop plants and other native and exotic species. The lack of initiatives by the Health Authorities to prevent and to contrast the spread of Ambrosia in the Parma area could cause public health consequences and an increase in health expenditures.
Aerobiological monitoring and mapping of Ambrosia plants in the province of Parma (northern Italy, southern Po valley), a useful tool for targeted preventive measures / Albertini, R; Ugolotti, M; Ghillani, L; Adorni, M; Vitali, P; Signorelli, C; Pasquarella, C.. - In: ANNALI DI IGIENE MEDICINA PREVENTIVA E DI COMUNITÀ. - ISSN 1120-9135. - 29:6(2017), pp. 515-528. [10.7416/ai.2017.2182]