Keeping one step ahead of pollen triggers for thunderstorm asthma

The recent Melbourne thunderstorm asthma event has led some people to question what made this hay fever season so bad and how this tragic event occurred.

Thunderstorm asthma, a sudden surge in cases of acute respiratory illness coinciding with local thunderstorms, ranges from small events that affect handfuls of people to large-scale epidemics that impact a whole city and severely strain the capacity of emergency services.

Thunderstorm asthma occurs when a complex interaction of meteorological and biological factors affects a group of susceptible individuals.

We don’t yet know the clinical circumstances and allergic sensitivities of those who sought medical care on the night of the recent episode. But, based on similar events in Australia, most will likely have been allergic to grass pollen, in particular rye grass pollen.

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Photo by Dan@Flickr