Published: Fri, November 25, 2016
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Death Toll From Melbourne Asthma Thunderstorm Increases To Four

Death Toll From Melbourne Asthma Thunderstorm Increases To Four

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

At least two people are believed to have died after a ideal storm triggered hundreds of thunderstorm asthma attacks and plunged Melbourne's hospitals into their busiest ever night.

The ideal storm event saw a high pollen count and thunderstorm conditions combine to produce tiny particles in the air that penetrated deep into people's airways, causing asthma to those who have the condition.

People with mild asthma, or who have never experienced an asthma attack, are often most affected because they are not actively taking treatment or have management plans.

"We essentially had a day's workload within five hours", said Ambulance Victoria's Executive Director Emergency Operations Mick Stephenson.

Professor George Braitberg, head of the Royal Melbourne Hospital's emergency department, likened the scene in the hospital on Monday night to a war zone.

Several more remained in Melbourne's intensive care units. The victims of the storm are Clarence Leo, Apollo Papadopoulos, Omar Moujalled, and Hope Carnevali.

He said Melbourne received conditions with high grass pollen and thunderstorms quite regularly in the spring and summer months and if the missing ingredient could be found, a forecast model could be created.

However, he said emergency services should give an estimated time of arrival so families can make a snap decision on whether they should drive to hospital themselves.

When this combines with strong winds, rain and high temperatures, as it did in Victoria this week, it can lead to incidents of thunderstorm asthma. A scientific study carried out in 2008 suggested that in a 10-year span there were 3 percent more asthma related cases reported in the aftermath of thunderstorms. One person, Ms. Hennessy said, was "still critical". Presumably the massive load of small allergenic particles being inhaled straight into the lung trigger these attacks.

Hope Carnevali, 20, died of "thunderstorm asthma".

"We know that a lot of people with poorly-controlled asthma in Australia don't take their regular medication regularly and they are at higher risk of having an asthma attack".

A storm in Melbourne, Australia, triggered thousands of pollen allergy attacks in the form of asthma, resulting in at least four deaths. "We've seen two incidents of this kind this century in Melbourne", she said.

He said: "We saw a record 335 patients in the 24 hour period of 21 November 2016".

"That's something we've never planned for and we need to do that better". Private hospitals, including Cabrini and the Epworth, opened their emergency departments for public patients.

Between 6 pm to 11 pm on Monday, Ambulance Victoria fielded about 1,900 calls, almost six times the usual volume.

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