Learning from a tragedy to increase public awareness and improve responses in future thunderstorm asthma events
Thunderstorm asthma is the occurrence of acute asthma either during or immediately after a thunderstorm and it is often characterised by a surge in emergency asthma presentations. The epidemic of thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne, Australia, on 21 November 2016 was the most extreme such event ever worldwide, with nine fatalities currently the subject of a coronial inquiry.1,2 Hospitals and ambulance services were placed under record pressure, and supplies of reliever medications were exhausted at some health services.1 Key tasks for the future are to predict the thunderstorms most likely to lead to asthma outbreaks and to define how best to respond. Further research to better anticipate these outbreaks is crucial and planning for the inevitable recurrence must occur at patient, institutional and state-wide levels.
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