Hundreds of Melbourne residents were hospitalized, and minimum four of them died late Monday due to an outbreak of “thunderstorm asthma.”
According to the public health experts, this condition usually occurs when the pollen in the air becomes saturated by heavy rain and transforms into microscopic particles which become easy to inhale.
When these fragments are inhaled, they invade the lungs. Those most at risk are people allergic to pollen and patients with asthma as they might even die. The experts alerted the public that the pollen level was twice over the limit.
Public health officials said that within five hours, the hospitals received over 1,800 calls, six times the average number for a day. In addition, most of these calls were related to people having difficulties breathing and asthma attacks.
It is worth mentioning that some patients said that they had never experienced breathing problems before. Also, two people died on that night during the thunderstorm. More precisely, one woman died due to an asthma attack while waiting half an hour for the ambulance.
Family members tried to perform CPR, but it wasn’t enough to save her. On the other hand, the second woman didn’t make it to the hospital as she died in the ambulance.
Two other deaths were confirmed by Wednesday. According to recent reports, many other victims were moved to intensive care to receive additional treatment. Two similar incidents related to thunderstorm asthma have occurred this century in Melbourne, based on the statistics.
Public health officials strongly recommend people with asthma or allergies to account for the risks of thunderstorm asthma, especially as this condition might become more frequent due to climate change.
In the worst-case scenario, patients are prompted to close every window, shower to remove all particles, run the air conditioner (with filter), and have a rescue inhaler prepared.
Because some patients report that they have never experienced breathing problems before, residents should go for a thorough medical analysis to find out whether they are prone to develop these symptoms in case of another outbreak of thunderstorm asthma. Health experts will continue their investigation to discover more about this unusual phenomenon which has already caused the death of many people.
Image Source: Data Center Dynamics