The Department of Health made a special call to people with asthma and other respiratory conditions to remain vigilant in the face of a huge cloud of dust from the Sahara that will cover the entire island, between today and Thursday.
“During these days, we will be receiving a huge cloud of dust from the Sahara. Its concentrations will increase for the next few hours, with its maximum between Sunday and Monday. According to experts, we will be experiencing an event of great magnitude, so asthmatics, people with allergies and other respiratory conditions, as well as those who have been infected with Covid-19, must be very careful not to aggravate their health conditions “Said Ibis Montalvo Félix, manager and coordinator of the Asthma Program of the Department of Health.
Montalvo Félix explained that dust from the Sahara, coming from West Africa, is characterized by bringing a mass of hot air, with very little moisture which, in turn, contains biological and chemical materials that are potentially harmful to respiratory health. This phenomenon, of annual recurrence on the island, is considered an environmental trigger for the symptoms of asthma disease.
“We cannot let our guard down, because asthma is a chronic, or long-term, disease that has a cure , but it can be controlled. This condition is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, producing more mucus, which blocks the passage of air. People with asthma, having inflamed airways, are more likely to be affected by environmental events such as Saharan Dust and the increase in fungal spores and pollens in the summer, “he said.
According to the Asthma Program Surveillance System, in Puerto Rico there are approximately 582,000 children and adolescents and 303,623 adults with asthma disease. The data reflects that one in 10 children and one in nine adults in Puerto Rico suffers from this health condition.
Montalvo Félix recommended, as protective measures, to close the doors and windows of the house, to stay hydrated and in air conditioning, to avoid exposure to particulate, avoid outdoor activities for a long time and use a mask when going out to public places.
For her part, the expert emphasized the importance of people with allergies and asthma not give up your maintenance therapy. This includes taking your medications as recommended by your doctor, following your relapse action plan, wearing sunglasses when you leave home, and a HEPA filter -High Efficency Particulate Air- in your home, to reduce the amount of particulate.
“If you don’t have to go out, stay home to avoid any complications with your condition. This is one of the most significant events of the past years and must be taken very seriously and responsibly, “Montalvo Félix concluded, stating that the concentrations of Sahara dust will begin to drop, slowly, during the week.
Sahara dust contains fungi, bacteria, viruses, spores, mites, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals that greatly affect people with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses.
For additional information, go to www .proyectoasmapr.com or to the Facebook page of the Puerto Rico Asthma Program. You can also contact clinical staff at 787-765-2929 ext. 4148 for any other questions.