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The 'thunderstorm asthma' event that sent thousands to ER

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Calls to emergency departments spiked in the wake of a thunderstorm that swept over Melbourne, Australia, in 2016. It was a rare outbreak of "thunderstorm asthma," the most severe ever recorded.

Now, a new model, published April 14 in the journal PLOS One, hints that a combination of lightning strikes, wind gusts, low humidity and popping pollen grains may be to blame for the surge of asthma attacks following the storm, which contributed to the deaths of 10 people.

As the name suggests, thunderstorm asthma outbreaks occur when a passing storm disperses allergen particles in the air, triggering asthma attacks in susceptible people, according to the American Lung Association.


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