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Got the sniffles? It could be due to snow mold

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, April 8, 2016, 3:48 PM - Have you been feeling sneezy and stuffy lately? You aren't alone, and it could be due to melting snow combined with a fungus called snow mold.

This disease can damage or kill grass when the snow melts.

The fungus is dormant during the warmer months. It doesn't grow in winter either because cold, dry winter air prevents it from expanding.

The mold begins to infect plants when gradually warming temperatures or brief warm spells cause snow to melt, providing the fungi with the moisture it needs to survive.

Damage is usually concentrated to small patches of dead grass, but some fields can contain several such patches. The fungus can vary in colour, from pink to grey and resembles cobwebs or small black masses.

While the damage it causes is mostly superficial fungal spores can trigger allergies and asthma attacks in humans.

RELATED: Warmer temperatures awaken snow fleas in northern Ontario

In some cases an antihistamine will alleviate symptoms but it's best to check with a medical professional before taking any medication.

Because the fungal spores travel through the atmosphere, it can be difficult to avoid a snow mold-induced allergy attack -- but avoiding large piles of snow can help.

Removing all lawn debris and keeping grass short prior to a snowfall can help prevent the fungus from developing as well.

Luckily, it won't stick around forever. Warm spring air and drier conditions will eventually kill off the remaining spores.


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