At least four people have died and hundreds were sent to the hospital this week in Melbourne, Australia after an outbreak of “thunderstorm asthma” struck late Monday.
The rare condition is thought to occur when high levels of pollen become saturated by rain and disintegrate into teeny fragments that are easier to inhale. Those minuscule particles can invade the deep crevices of the lungs and get lodged there. In people who are allergic to pollen and/or already suffer from asthma, the scenario can easily become life-threatening.
On Monday, the city’s rye grass pollen count was reported to be double the level normally considered “high.”
After a spring thunderstorm hit the city Monday evening, emergency responders were inundated with calls; in the span of five hours, they received more than 1,870 calls, six times the number for an average day. Many of the calls were due to asthma attacks and breathing problems. Some victims …
READ MORE ON ARSTECHNICA.COM