Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mild Winter Produces Early Rise in Tree Pollen in Midwest

The Gottlieb Allergy Count, reported by Joseph Leija, MD, will officially begin Monday, March 18, weeks earlier than the usual April 1 start date. For the past week, Dr.Leija has been monitoring the air daily in preparation.

“Today the tree pollen was moderate, which is high for this time of year, and I can see the many budding treetops from the Gottlieb rooftop where the pollen-catching equipment is located,” said Leija, who has been performing the Gottlieb Allergy Count for more than two decades. “So far, what I am seeing in 2013 is equal to what I saw in 2012, which was a very early and especially bad allergy season.”

Leija, performs the official allergy count for the Midwest on behalf of the National Allergy Bureau, and conducted an initial count for the season on Monay, March 11 at 7 a.m. In 2012, Dr. Leija, an allergist, retired from seeing patients but he continues his public health crusade for improved breathing by performing the Gottlieb Allergy Count. In 2012, Dr. Leija issued four air-quality alerts.

"I believe today’s pollen count may actually be higher and some tree pollen has been washed away by the steady rain last night and today," said Dr. Leija, who, at 6 a.m. and in the rain, climbed the stairs to the roof atop Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System.

Dr. Joseph Leija, allergist at Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, is solely certified by the National Allergy Bureau to perform the daily official allergy count for the Midwest, usually from April – October. Due to the mild winter season, the practice he founded is seeing a dramatic increase in those suffering from respiratory illness and allergies. Dr. Leija will begin reporting the count two weeks early, on March 18, due to elevated pollen counts.

An octagenerian, Dr. Leija rises before dawn to collect specimens from his pollen catching-machine atop Gottlieb and deliver the count to the public by 7 a.m. The Gottlieb Allergy Count is available in English, Polish and Spanish, through Twitter: at and in English at 1-866-4-POLLEN (476-5536).

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