Two weeks ago Melbourne Australia was hit by the worst outbreak of `Thunderstorm Asthma' on record, with 8,500 people requiring medical assistance, and resulting in 8 deaths.
As more storms lash the region, News.com.au reports:
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy likened the state’s asthma crisis to “150 bombs going off at once”. She said emergency services were not prepared to respond to an extreme weather event of that scale as the death toll reached eight people, with another patient still in a critical condition following the storm on Monday last week. “We’ve just never encountered anything of the scale and the scope (of that),” she said.
While rare, and poorly understood, the phenomenon was first recognized in the 1980s. A 2013 article in the QMJ describes it as:
Thunderstorm asthma: an overview of the evidence base and implications for public health advice.
Thunderstorm asthma is a term used to describe an observed increase in acute bronchospasm cases following the occurrence of thunderstorms in the local vicinity. The roles of accompanying meteorological features and aeroallergens, such as pollen grains and fungal spores, have been studied in an effort to explain why thunderstorm asthma does not accompany all thunderstorms.
Despite published evidence being limited and highly variable in quality due to thunderstorm asthma being a rare event, this article reviews this evidence in relation to the role of aeroallergens, meteorological features and the impact of thunderstorm asthma on health services.
This review has found that several thunderstorm asthma events have had significant impacts on individuals' health and health services with a range of different aeroallergens identified. This review also makes recommendations for future public health advice relating to thunderstorm asthma on the basis of this identified evidence.
Today, there are multiple media reports in the Arabic press of a remarkably similar event in Kuwait, with 5 deaths reported over the past couple of days, and hundreds of people hospitalized concurrent with the arrival of gusty thunderstorms.
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health website appears to be offline, so we don't have access to the official statement, but the following KUNA media reports quotes the MOH.
You'll also denials by local health officials of rumors circulating in social media that some of these hospitalizations are due to a viral cause.
(Health) Kuwait: 5 deaths Balummen past emergencies for patients with asthma suffer from suffocation, difficulty breathing
Kuwait - 1-12 (KUNA) - Undersecretary of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health, Dr. Khalid Al-Sahlawi said that the country's hospitals and five deaths were recorded during the past two days due to emergency cases of patients with asthma were suffering from suffocation and breathing difficulties.
He Sahlawi in a press statement Friday that the 844 emergency entered into the country's hospitals during the past two days died, including five cases, three of which in Mubarak Hospital and two at the Amiri Hospital while entered the 26 cases in intensive care and 45 cases to the wings with out the rest of the cases after receiving the necessary treatment.
He explained that the sections of accidents in hospitals declared a state of emergency and prepare to receive critical situations and make the necessary first aid and called for emergency contact numbers in case of any emergency through the 112 ambulance and 151 medical consultations.
For its part denied the metropolitan area health director Dr. Fatima Alasumi in a similar statement the truth of what has been handled through the means of social communication of warnings about the closure of ground floor and the first of the Amiri Hospital because of a viral infection.
She said that what is traded is totally indicating that the current season is the seasonal flu season has nothing to do what is traded in the means of social communication.
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