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20th Dec 2016

Very Rare ‘Thunderstorm Asthma’ Kills Six People And Leaves Five Others In Intensive Care

Alana Laverty

Six people have died and five remain on life support after a very rare and unprecedented ‘thunderstorm asthma’ outbreak hit Melbourne, Australia.

Thunderstorm asthma occurs in the Australian spring (September, October and November) when rye grass pollen gets wet, breaks into smaller pieces and enters people’s lungs, causing them sometimes severe breathing problems.

Five patients remain in intensive care in Melbourne hospitals. Three are in a critical condition. A further 12 people are in hospital battling a variety of respiratory and thunderstorm asthma-related conditions.


Monday’s asthma storm overwhelmed emergency services and hospitals throughout the city. 

Paramedics and hospitals were stretched to their absolute limits as thousands phoned to report breathing problems. More than 8,000 people were treated in hospital.

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