On Capital Public Radio's Insight, Rudolph pointed out that the lack of rain can dry out soils. That could increase dust levels, and dust carries pollen.
"[This] increases allergy and asthma. And dust can also carry pathogens. Over the last decade we've seen an increase in Valley Fever, a fungal disease in the Central Valley. That can be increased when dust levels increase and the spores of this disease are carried in the dust."
~Dr. Linda Rudolph, Center for Climate Change and Health
Rudolph says the drought could also trigger other health problems such as an increase in diabetes in some poor, rural communities. She says when drinking water becomes scarce, people turn to other fluids.
"And when those other alternatives are things like soda, it just exacerbates health problems such as obesity," she says.
Rudolph says droughts can also reduce agricultural crop yields leading to significant food price increases.
"And we see the same thing when people have to pay more for food. Low income people often turn to calorie dense food that is associated with more calories, obesity and diabetes," she says.
January brought above-average rainfall and snow to much of California, partly due to El Niño. But forecasters say the ocean warming condition is "taking a break" for the next week or longer.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says, other than a slight reduction in exceptional drought in the northern Sierra, it needs more time to assess impacts of the recent moisture on California's long-term drought.
California regulators have made modest adjustments to water conservation requirements for cities.
The second measurement this winter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 130 percent of average. State water officials say the snowpack will help reservoir recovery.
California's water conservation rate dropped to 18 percent in December. But water regulators say the state continues to meet its long term goals.