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Chicago marks highest mold count for 2014 season

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (June 30, 2014) – At 45,000, today’s Gottlieb Allergy Count for mold spores is very close to the 50,000 threshold for a “dangerous” air quality alert.

“The extreme humidity coupled with the hot temperatures and rain have created a soupy environment that is causing serious distress for those with mold allergies and asthma,” said Joseph Leija, MD, who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official count of the Midwest. “It’s like having a hot, wet towel over your face all the time for many with sensitive systems. Difficulty breathing, itchy throat, coughing and fatigue will be what Chicagoans feel today and possibly for the rest of the week."

Today’s Gottlieb Allergy Count was: trees - low,  mold - high, grass - low and weeds - low. Today’s mold count is the highest since the tracking began in March.

Dr. Leija said those with sensitive systems should protect themselves from outside allergens.

“Stay inside,  run the air conditioning and above all, take your allergy medication,” said Dr. Leija, who with the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, created the Gottlieb Allergy Count more than two decades ago. “If you must go outside, keep the car windows up and the air conditioning on. Rinse your nose with saline solution and wash your hair before sleep to remove trapped spores."

Every weekday morning at 4:30 a.m. Dr. Leija climbs the stairs to the top of a building on the Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus, located just outside Chicago. He collects samples from a scientific pollen-catching machine developed in Britain during World War II to detect poison in the air. The machine records air particles every two minutes during a 24-hour period.

Dr. Leija takes the glass slide with the day’s sample and meticulously identifies and counts every spore under a microscope. He uses an algorithm created by the National Allergy Bureau to arrive at the official allergy count for the Midwest by 7 a.m.

Typical pollen seasons are: Trees from March to May; grass from May to June; weeds and ragweed from mid-August to October and mold all season long, depending on dampness.
“People with respiratory conditions need to know the allergy count early in the morning so they can take the right medication and make adjustments in their routine to improve their health,”  said Dr. Leija,  who delivers the count to the  local media and the public at no charge. “Several broadcast networks and Chicago’s largest newspaper report the Gottlieb Allergy Count daily so I am up at 4 a.m.to get the process started."

Dr. Leija is the only allergist certified by the National Allergy Bureau to report the official allergy count of the Midwest. The Gottlieb Allergy Count is available via Twitter, at Gottliebhospital.org and by calling 1-866-4-POLLEN (476-5536).

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Stasia Thompson
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