"Melbourne has suffered what appears to be the most lethal episode of thunderstorm asthma on record. With at least four deaths and more patients left in intensive care, the storm has served as a grim reminder that the seasonal weather occurrence can have tragic knock-on effects for human health. “This is an extraordinary event,” said Prof Anthony Seaton, who has worked on thunderstorm asthma at the University of Aberdeen. “I don’t know of any event as severe as this.”
Thunderstorm asthma has been studied for more than 30 years. Since the early 1980s, rapid spikes in sudden asthma attacks have been linked to thunderstorms in the UK, Australia, Italy and the US, but they no doubt occur in other countries. “The evidence for the connection is pretty robust,” said ProfAziz Sheikh, co-director of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, a collaboration between 14 universities.