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AdventHealth Doctors Warn: Saharan Dust Could Cause Allergies, COVID-19-Like Symptoms in Some Central Floridians

Photo: Brittany Colette
Photo: Brittany Colette

Saharan dust is making its way to Central Florida, keeping storms away and bringing beautiful sunsets, but also causing COVID-19-like symptoms in some people.

Centra Care Medical Director Dr. Tim Hendrix says the Saharan dust could cause respiratory symptoms similar to a brush fire. 

Hendrix says that means the dust could trigger asthma attacks and allergy symptoms. 

But he says if someone has sneezing and congestion and isn’t sure if they have been introduced to COVID-19, they should still get tested for the virus.

“Because it still could be COVID-19. We are still seeing people come in and say, 'oh I'm having allergies.' We run a test and they're positive for COVID and they didn’t know it.”

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The dust cloud from off the coast of Western Africa should make its way across the Atlantic to Central Florida by Friday or Saturday.

Hendrix says it's a win-win when people get tested for COVID-19 and vaccinated against it ahead of the summer holiday.

He says most people will need both before they can travel internationally. People gain full immunity two weeks after getting the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna or the only shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 

“France, I was reading on their website yesterday, says four weeks beyond the Johnson & Johnson. So look at those details. People have been quote on quote deported, sent back to the United States when they arrived because they were a couple of days prior to that two weeks.”

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Hendrix says travelers should also make sure they have been tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their flight.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.