‘Thunderstorm asthma’ kills four in Australia

Four people have died from asthma attacks after a thunderstorm in the Australian city of Melbourne. More than 2,000 people suffered breathing problems when a severe storm combined with an extremely high pollen count to cause what has been described as “thunderstorm asthma”. Hope Carnevali, a 20-year-old law student, died on the front lawn of her family’s home as she waited for an ambulance. Omar Moujalled, an 18-year-old just weeks away from graduating from high school, died on his way to hospital after a massive asthma attack. Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, and Clarence Leo, the owner of a security company, also died following asthma attacks.

We saw a record 335 patients in the 24 hour period of 21 November 2016. On a typical day in (A&E) we treat approximately 200 patients a day.

Professor George Braitberg, director of emergency medicine at The Royal Melbourne Hospital

The city’s hospitals were swamped by people with breathing problems and paramedics were so stretched that police and firefighters were called in to help. Dr John Weiner, consultant physician at AllergyNet Australia, said the conditions seen in Melbourne on Monday night had been “the perfect storm” for the 20% of the city’s residents who are allergic to pollen. “This is just the fourth major episode of this type in 30 years in Melbourne,” he told news.com.au. According to The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the last event in Melbourne was in 2011, but it was not as severe.