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Posted Apr 12, 2010, 9:28 am
Southern Arizona is paying for a cooler-than-normal winter with a spike in allergies.
"A lot of people are starting to have more symptoms," Dr. Pierre Sakali, a Tucson allergy specialist, told KOLD. "People are coming in with congestion, sneezing, and even asthma exacerbations."
And it's not just Tucsonans who are suffering.
"It's wicked bad this year," Dr. Mona Mangat, an allergy specialist in St. Petersburg, Fla., who can't recall a worse year in the six she's worked there, told The Associated Press. "We're just overwhelmed with patients right now. We're double- and triple-booked with new patients, trying to work people in because we know how much people are suffering."
Cooler temps across Southern Arizona delayed pollination and now tree pollen counts have dramatically jumped. Palo Verde, Mulberry, Olive and Mesquite are blooming or will in the next few weeks, according to The University of Arizona Health Science Center.
Weather.com's PollenCast predicts "high" levels of tree pollen for tomorrow and "very high" levels for Wednesday and Thursday.
The average February temperature in Tucson was 53.8 degrees, 1.2 degrees below normal and the first below normal February since 2004 when the average monthly temperature was 50.8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Also, despite the Southwest's reputation for being a haven for those with respiratory problems, Tucson doesn't offer the relief it once did.
"Although much of Arizona and New Mexico is arid, most people in the cities, suburbs, and small towns grow grass for lawns. Plus, the land has been disturbed by construction and landscaping, so weeds are widespread. Las Vegas, Tucson, and Phoenix have very high rates of allergies and asthma. Indoor allergens, such as mites, molds, and cockroaches, are also common in desert homes, especially when swamp coolers are used instead of air conditioning."