3 Australians Critically Ill After Rare Thunderstorm Asthma

NY Times

MELBOURNE, Australia — Three patients remained critically ill on Thursday, three days after a rare condition known as thunderstorm asthma killed four people and sent hundreds to hospitals in Australia's second-largest city, an official said.

Doctors were amazed there were not more fatalities given the numbers of people who suffered cardiac arrests and struggled to breathe when a wild thunderstorm struck Melbourne on Monday night, Victoria state Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.

The storm caused rain-sodden ryegrass pollen to explode and disperse over the city, with ruptured particles penetrating deep into lungs. Almost one third of patients who suffered asthma attacks on Monday reported never having asthma before.

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