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Four killed by rare 'thunderstorm asthma' in Melbourne

Published 23/11/2016

Ambulance Victoria reported a six-times larger caseload because of the asthma attacks
Ambulance Victoria reported a six-times larger caseload because of the asthma attacks

Four people have been confirmed dead from a rare condition known as thunderstorm asthma that sent hundreds of people to hospital in Melbourne.

The wild thunderstorm caused rain-sodden ryegrass pollen to explode and disperse over Australia's second-largest city on Monday night, and th e pollen caused asthma attacks in patients who had never suffered from the condition before.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman Mick Stephenson reported a six-times larger caseload because of the asthma attacks.

Professor George Braitberg, head of Royal Melbourne Hospital's emergency department, likened the scene in the hospital on Monday night to a war zone.

He said seven asthma patients had been transferred to the hospital's intensive care unit.

The latest death to be confirmed was Clarence Leo, a nightclub bouncer and father of two, who died at home early on Tuesday morning, his family said.

Prof Braitberg said: "I've been an emergency physician for about 35 years, worked in a number of hospitals, and I can say, hand on heart, that I have not seen this before."

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From Belfast Telegraph