Newswise — For the first time ever, the official allergy count of the Midwest was not available during the allergy reporting season.

“The spring snow storm blanketed Chicago in 1 ½ inches of snow and also froze the collection receptacle of the pollen-catching machine used to formulate the Gottlieb Allergy Count,” said Joseph Leija, MD, allergist who performs the official count of the Midwest. “I have never missed a single day of reporting since I created the allergy count more than two decades ago.”

Blow torches, chemicals, heat lamps and more were considered to thaw the pollen--catching machine. “The machine is too delicate to risk damage so I decided to just wait for Mother Nature to warm up,” he said. Every weekday morning at 5 am from April through October, octagenarian, Dr. Leija climbs the stairs to the roof of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park. He maintains special pollen-catching scientific equipment there that second-by-second captures the air and pollen during a 24-hour period.

Dr. Leija carries the slide of each day’s ‘catch’ downstairs to his office where it is examined under a microscope. Each tree, mold, grass, weed and ragweed spore is identified and counted by Dr. Leija by 7 a.m. to arrive at the official allergy count of the Midwest.

“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,” says the allergist who supplies area members of the media, as well as the general public, the numbers at no charge. “Several broadcast networks and Chicago’s largest newspaper report the Gottlieb Allergy Count daily so I am up at 4 am to get the process started.”

Dr. Leija is the only allergist in the Midwest certified by the National Allergy Bureau to report the official allergy count of the Midwest. He follows a complex series of algorithms to arrive at the daily allergy count and his numbers are used by the association in their daily national reports of allergy activity.

The Gottlieb Allergy Count is available through Twitter: at and in English at 1-866-4-POLLEN (476-5536).