Daily Brief: 2016.11.27
According to Australian health officials, a freak illness known as ‘thunderstorm asthma’ left six people dead and five others on life support in Melbourne, Australia. The storm reportedly caused ryegrass pollen grains to explode and disperse over the city, with tiny pollen particles penetrating deep into lungs. (Sources: NBC News, CBS News)
Paramedics and hospitals were stretched to their limits as thousands reported breathing problems. During a four-hour period, 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. In total, more than 8,000 people were treated in hospital. About a third of patients who suffered asthma attacks reported never having had asthma before. (Sources: BBC, CNN)
The world's first recorded thunderstorm asthma event occurred in Melbourne in 1987, when hospitals reported a five-fold increase in asthma cases. Similar events have happened in the United States, Canada, Britain and Italy. The last major event in Melbourne was in November 2010.(Sources: Fox News, NBC News)
- People with hay fever are particularly at risk. To better manage hay fever during the pollen season, use antihistamines, eye drops and other medications.
- If you experience an increase in your asthmatic symptoms as a result of thunderstorms, doctors recommend avoiding outdoor activity for 24 hours following the storm, and seeking medical attention if symptoms are severe.
- Appropriate management of chronic pollen asthma includes commencing anti-inflammatory asthma medication.