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Thunderstorm Asthma Kills 4 in Australia

Image: Thunderstorm Asthma Kills 4 in Australia

A thunderstorm in Melbourne, Australia, caused thousands to temporarily suffer from thunderstorm asthma, killing a few people before they could receive medical attention. (Gauravmasand/Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 23 Nov 2016 05:20 PM

Heightened asthma symptoms triggered by a thunderstorm in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday resulted in hundreds of hospitalizations and four deaths there.

The rare condition occurs when rain water is absorbed by rye grass pollen at the peak of its development, which causes it to burst into thousands of tiny pieces and disburse over an area. The tiny pieces can then enter directly into people’s lungs, where they trigger asthma-like symptoms, according to CNN.

The pollen can hang in the air for up to 24 hours, and the tiny pieces can cause symptoms even for people who have never had asthma before.

During the storm on Monday, 74 percent of those surveyed by the University of Melbourne had reported experiencing symptoms, and 32 percent reported that they had not had asthma symptoms before, CNN reported.

CNN reported that Ambulance Victoria had six times the normal amount of cases on Monday evening, more than 1,900 total. Sixty extra ambulances were deployed, and police and firefighters also got involved.

Even so, 20-year-old Hope Carnevali died from asthma complications after waiting more than 40 minutes for an ambulance. Other victims included an 18-year-old recent graduate and a 35-year-old nightclub bouncer.

“We essentially had a day’s workload within 5 hours,” Ambulance Victoria’s executive director Mick Stephenson said, reported The Washington Post.

At the peak of the emergency, the ambulance company received 200 calls within 15 minutes.

Thunderstorm asthma last occurred in the Victoria area in 2010, and has occurred in other areas including the U.K., U.S., Italy, and Canada, according to University of Melbourne biosciences professor Edward Newbigin, who believes that the weather condition is underreported, according to CNN.

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Heightened asthma symptoms triggered by a thunderstorm in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday resulted in hundreds of hospitalizations and four deaths there.
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2016-20-23
Wednesday, 23 Nov 2016 05:20 PM
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