3 Australians Critically Ill After Rare Thunderstorm Asthma

NY Times

MELBOURNE, Australia — Three patients remained critically ill on Thursday, three days after a rare condition known as thunderstorm asthma killed four people and sent hundreds to hospitals in Australia's second-largest city, an official said.

Doctors were amazed there were not more fatalities given the numbers of people who suffered cardiac arrests and struggled to breathe when a wild thunderstorm struck Melbourne on Monday night, Victoria state Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.

The storm caused rain-sodden ryegrass pollen to explode and disperse over the city, with ruptured particles penetrating deep into lungs. Almost one third of patients who suffered asthma attacks on Monday reported never having asthma before.

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'Thunderstorm asthma:' Deadly illness caused by freak weather

By Reed Alexander and James Griffiths, CNN

An unusual combination of weather conditions leading to a freak illness known as thunderstorm asthma has left four people dead in Australia.

Thousands of people were rushed to hospital Monday with breathing problems in the southern Australian state of Victoria as emergency services struggled to cope. Three were still in a critical condition Thursday, a Victorian Department of Health spokesman told CNN.

During a four hour period Monday, Ambulance Victoria received more than 1,900 calls, or one call every four to five seconds. An extra 60 ambulances were deployed, as well as police and firefighters.


Edward Newbigin, a professor of biosciences at the University of Melbourne, said that many of those affected in Australia this week may never have had an asthma attack before.
"I imagine it was absolutely terrifying," he said.

Of more than 2,500 people surveyed by the university, 74% said they experienced asthma during the storm. Of those, 32% had never experienced an asthma attack before.

thunderstorm asthma survey


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Prof Ed Newbigin discussing thunderstorm asthma on ABC News 24

Prof Ed Newbigin (University of Melbourne) discussing thunderstorm asthma on ABC News 24 - 22 November 2016

Thundestorm Asthma - ABC News 22 November 2016

To our heroes

Massive episode of thunderstorm asthma Monday evening with hospitals and ambulance services swamped by overwhelming numbers of people with respiratory problems. 

Stepping back a moment, I think we can all be grateful to the medical staff, doctors, nurses, ambos and so many others, who responded so magnificently to the extraordinary situation that confronted them.

So I dedicate today's pollen forecast for the coming week to them.

Forecast for tomorrow, Wednesday 23 November 2016:

Forecast for Thursday 24 November 2016:

Forecast for Friday 25 November 2016:

Forecast for Saturday 26 November 2016:

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Forecast for Monday 28 November 2016:

This information is copyright (disclaimer & copyright).
Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part maybe reproduced by any process without prior written permission from
the University of Melbourne, Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to Associate Professor Ed Newbigin
School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne. Phone: +61 3 8344 4871.