Thunderstorm asthma leads to deaths in Australia


A change in weather and a storm have led to at least eight deaths in Melbourne, Australia, due to what is called thunderstorm asthma.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said last week's thunderstorm event left one person in critical condition in addition to the eight dead, Australia's ABC News reported.

>> Read more trending stories

The Health and Human Services Department said thunderstorms have been linked to asthma because humidity causes pollen to break up into small particles that can be inhaled and affect breathing. It typically happens from October to December, which is hay fever season in the country.

The department, which is calling the storm a "tragic and unforeseen event," issued an updated health advisory Tuesday. The update said that anyone with a history of allergies, asthma or hay fever have an increased risk, although anyone may have asthma symptoms during an asthma thunderstorm event.

Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.

"Those storm cells pick up all that pollen and dump it in Melbourne," Dr. Lorraine Baker, of the Australian Medical Association in Victoria, told The New York Times. "If you are sensitive to ryegrass, which is a very common allergy, it’s like having a whole immune challenge thrown directly into your face. Your airways start to close."


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

New father accused of selling heroin from maternity ward
New father accused of selling heroin from maternity ward

A new dad is accused of selling heroin from his family's room in the maternity ward. Cody Hulse's child was born Thursday and police say a few hours later, Hulse was arrested on accusations he was selling heroin out of the maternity ward.  Only Channel 11 was there as Hulse faced a judge Friday. On his way to jail, Channel 11 asked him what he...
Embracing bodies found in national park died in ‘sympathetic murder-suicide’
Embracing bodies found in national park died in ‘sympathetic murder-suicide’

The bodies of a couple embracing each other discovered at Joshua Tree National Park likely died in a “sympathetic murder-suicide” while they were lost amid the desert’s boiling heat.  Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 22, had been missing for nearly three months after going for a hike in late July.  Crews spent more...
Hippo photo bombs engagement proposal
Hippo photo bombs engagement proposal

Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s beloved baby hippopotamus, helped celebrate the engagement of #TeamFiona fans. The couple were in line to snap a picture on their one-year anniversary earlier this month when Nick Kelble surprised Hayley Roll by getting down on one knee and proposing while Fiona photo-bombed the special moment at...
Prototypes of Trump's border wall released
Prototypes of Trump's border wall released

Congress is still calculating just how the Trump administration’s proposed Mexican-American border wall will be funded, but until then, we can now see what it might look like. Eight life size models are under construction on the outskirts of San Diego. Four of the prototypes are solid concrete and the other half are a combination of concrete...
Photos show suspected poaching ring gloating over illegal kills; now they face nearly 200 charges
Photos show suspected poaching ring gloating over illegal kills; now they face nearly 200 charges

Newly obtained case files and criminal charges show the extent of a poaching case in Washington and Oregon where dozens of bears, elk and bobcats were killed for the thrill of it.  KIRO 7 News reported in September that as many as 23 people possibly took part in the poaching ring breaking virtually every hunting law and regulation in Washington...
More Stories