More people are being blessed in southwestern Idaho than in the Vatican as they sneeze their way through one of the worst allergy seasons on record.

And the biggest offender is the familiar sagebrush. Pollen from the bush is triple this month over September, said Dr. Mitchell Ganier, a Boise allergist who collects data on pollen.Ganier said that since Oct. 1, the pollen count has been as high as last October, which was the worst year he had seen in his nine years of practice.

"With no moisture we have had more days with pollen," Ganier said. "The rain causes the plants to stop pollinating."

The skies do not promise a quick reprieve. The National Weather Service predicts warm and dry weather through the middle of the month.

The allergy season will not end until the sagebrush stop pollinating in November.

Since Oct. 1, about 12 people with difficulty breathing have been treated in the emergency department at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Ganier suggests allergy sufferers close windows, especially at night. He also recommends a good house-cleaning, because dust and mold also can cause allergies.