Ragweed infestation in southern Germany poses allergy threat

Bavaria is battling the spread of ragweed, a plant indigenous to North America that causes particularly severe symptoms in allergy sufferers.

Ragweed infestation in southern Germany poses allergy threat
Ragweed. Photo: DPA

“During our investigations in 2019, we found 45 new large areas of ragweed growth, bringing the total number of large areas identified to 509,” Bavarian health minister Melanie Huml (CSU) confirmed on Monday when inspecting a ragweed population in the district of Roth. 

The number of unreported cases is expected to be significantly higher.

READ ALSO: Pollen at 'unusually high levels' amid early spring in Germany

The pollen of ragweed can cause allergic reactions such as hay fever, conjunctivitis and allergic asthma in humans, even in small quantities. 

Roth is one of the most badly affected districts in Bavaria. Thirty-four large areas with more than 100 plants each have been discovered there since 2007.

Originally native to the USA, the plant has been spreading in Bavaria since the 1990s.

“The pollen of the North American ragweed, which is about to bloom, can cause severe allergic reactions in humans. That is why our aim is to stop the spread of the plant in Bavaria as much as is possible”, Huml said. 

The southern state is investing €90,000 in monitoring the weed. Some success as been had in slowing down the uncontrolled spread of the plant.

“But as our monitoring shows, the numbers are still rising. We are therefore working on a more comprehensive strategy,” said Huml.

Experts say that ragweed pollen has an allergy potential five times higher than grass pollen. About 80 percent of all pollen allergy sufferers also react to ragweed.

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18 people attacked by swarm of hornets at German wine festival

Festival-goers were rushed to the hospital after being stung by a swarm of hornets.

18 people attacked by swarm of hornets at German wine festival
A swarm of hornets attacked people at a festival in Weingarten on Sunday. Photo: DPA
A total of 18 people were attacked by the hornets at the community festival, held to celebrate the end of summer, in the town of Weingarten in Karlsruhe, BILD reports.
Emergency services were called to the scene on Sunday. Thirteen people from the group had to be taken to nearby hospitals for medical treatment, the police said.
The Stuttgarter Zeitung reports that the group were hiking through vineyards at the time. 

The hornets were gathered in their nest in a tree trunk but it's not known what triggered the stinging frenzy. Hornets can be dangerous, particularly to people who suffer from allergies.
No children were hurt in the incident and none of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening, according to reports.
Emergency teams helped to ease the panicked crowd. A hornet specialist was called in to ensure the insect nest was properly removed, and the festival area was closed off for the rest of the day. 

Hornets, which belong to the family of wasps but are slightly larger, are a protected species in Germany and their nests may only be moved with official approval.

Both hornets and wasps are very common insects during summertime in Germany. People are advised not to make sudden movements around them or disturb nests to reduce the risk of receiving a nasty sting.