Thunderstorm Asthma Outbreak [LATEST NEWS UPDATES]: Death Toll Rises As 8,500 Victims Get Struck By Thunderstorm Asthma In Australia
A freak illness has hit Australia and other parts of Victoria as 60 ambulances were utilized to answer the 1,900 phone calls which overwhelmed emergency service, with one call being registered every four to five seconds. With only six casualties reported this Sunday, the death toll has increased to eight after a week and a day of alleviating the damage of such unexpected event.
Among the eight victims are Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, law student Hope Carnevali, 20, and high-school student Omar Moujalled, 18. The family of Carnevali has said she died in her family's arms while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, The Huffington Post reported.
The epidemic, which also occurred in London and Wagga, is caused by pollen allergens in starch granules or fungal spores that peak during harvest time. When a storm hits the atmosphere during high levels of humidity and pollen concentration, a thunderstorm asthma breaks out.
The ASCIA or the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy explains that when it rains or is humid, pollen grains can absorb moisture and burst, releasing hundreds of small allergenic particles that can penetrate deep into the small airways of the lung. Thus, making breathing an arduous task.
Out of the 2,588 respondents surveyed by the University of Melbourne, 74 percent said that they experienced an asthma attack during the night the storm struck, with 32 percent having asthma attacks for the first time. Especially to people with asthma diagnosis, precautions need to be heeded to prevent such predicament from affecting them in the future. Reena Ghildyal, a professional in biomedical sciences at the University of Canberra offers safety tips.
"Keep updated on local pollen counts and weather forecasts, especially in spring; keep your asthma medication up to date; enjoy the spectacle of the thunderstorm from inside your house; and call (emergency services) if your asthma worsens or you feel any breathing difficulty," she told CNN.