Death toll up in Aussie ‘thunderstorm asthma’
THE death toll from Australia’s “thunderstorm asthma” episode has risen to six and three others are in critical condition, authorities said as they assessed the fallout from the unprecedented event.
Four victims – ranging from the ages of 18 to 35 – were last week linked to the unusual weather phenomenon, where a thunderstorm coincided with a high pollen count and sent more than 8500 patients to hospital emergency rooms.
The rare event in Australia’s southern state of Victoria triggered respiratory problems for asthma and hay fever sufferers.
“There have now been six deaths that may have occurred as a result of conditions relating to the thunderstorm asthma events last Monday,” Victoria’s health department spokesperson said.
“Five patients are continuing to receive specialist ICU care in hospitals with three critical.”
A further 12 people were being treated for respiratory and other health problems, he added.
Victoria Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the demand for ambulances was so acute at one point that “it was like having 150 bombs going off right across a particular part of metropolitan Melbourne”.
The government has launched a review into how emergency and health services can better respond and manage such events. –