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Pollen at 'unusually high levels' amid early spring in Germany

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Pollen at 'unusually high levels' amid early spring in Germany
Hay fever season has come early Image: DPA
13:08 CET+01:00
With temperatures in the mid-teens, people across the country have begun stowing away the winter jackets in hope of an early spring. But the warm weather has brought with it a few undesirable side effects - including the highest levels of pollen in the air since 1985.

An early spring is nothing to be sneezed at - except in the case that it is. Spring weather in February has seen Germans across the country flock to local parks, rivers and lakes to check out the strange yellow disc in the sky. But for sufferers of hay fever, their least favourite time of the year has come early. 

Reports across the country are that pollen is at unusually high levels for February. In Berlin in mid-February, pollen levels had reached their highest recorded since 1985. 

SEE ALSO: 'Early spring' to continue in Germany over the weekend

In total, an estimated 12 million Germans suffer from hay fever - with children and adolescents the most acutely affected. 

Aside from the warm weather, the dry conditions are also perfect for an early spring. 

As reported by DPA, sales of tablets, nasal spray and tissues are approaching April and May levels. 

The German Pollen Information Service Foundation (Deutsche Stiftung Polleninformationsdienst) forecast pollen at “rarely observed levels” throughout the lowlands of the north and west of the country. 

The reason for the unusually high levels has been the simultaneous release of pollens by plants across the country in the mistaken belief that winter had reached its natural end. 

Torsten Zuberbier, the head of the Allergy Centre at Berlin's Charite Hospital, said it was a difficult time for the allergic across the country. 

“For allergy sufferers, it was not a dream winter,” he said. 

“Already at Christmas time, pollen allergy sufferers were plagued (all over the country) - perhaps except in the higher mountains.

“You have the feeling that climate change has reached us. Plants love this weather”. 

The early release of pollens does not necessarily mean an easier March-May period for allergy sufferers. Several plants and trees are yet to release their pollens but are set to do so momentarily. 

"One can already expect that the birch will soon start to flower with full force," says Zuberbier.

Officials have sought to reassure people that pollens are non-toxic and do not damage the body. The symptoms of hay fever - weeping, itchy eyes and sneezing - are caused by the body's response to pollens contacting mucous membranes.

Where these symptoms are significant however - particularly if there is difficulty breathing - authorities encourage a visit to the doctor or pharmacy.

As The Local reported yesterday, the downsides to Germany's mild winter (aside of course from the pending and unpredictable impacts of climate change) do not end there.  

The early spring has increased the chances of a mosquito outbreak in summer, with many of the pests able to successfully live through the mild winter and get ready for their egg-laying phase a few months early. 

 

 
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