'We have the highest grass pollen counts in the world in Eugene'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Wherever people chose to enjoy the great Saturday weather in the southern Willamette Valley, they were met with a high pollen count that could be incapacitating for some allergy sufferers.

For those competing in the Prefontaine Classic, the spike in pollen counts brought on by the dry and sunny weather might have an impact on their performance.

Be it a runner with a runny nose, or a sneezing shot-putter, Dr. Kraig Jacobson of the Oregon Allergy Associates spent Saturday breaking down the jump in pollen counts with the coaches at Hayward Field.

Dr. Jacobson said the grass pollen count jumped to 694 Saturday, up from around 14 earlier this week.

"That will easily be higher than any count in the country really in the world. We have the highest grass pollen counts in the world in Eugene," said Dr. Jacobson.

The spike comes at an inconvenient time for athletes with a reaction to pollen who are competing at the Prefontaine Classic.

Dr. Jacobson said he's been working with coaches leading up to track meets for 36 pollen seasons, helping them prepare their athletes who may be sensitive. Jacobson said that with such an incredibly high count, even those who are not allergic to grass pollen may find it to be an irritant.

He estimates between 10 and 20 percent of the athletes are allergic to grass pollen, and recommends they stay indoors and waiting as long as possible before hitting the field for competition.

"It's the clear weather all these different variety of grass are pollenating all at the same time. So it's just kinda burst of pollen at the same time," said Dr. Jacobson.

He says Eugene can expect to have high pollen counts for the next week. You can track the latest pollen counts on the Oregon Allergy Associates website.