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Thunderstorm asthma warning as allergy season arrives

Allergy season has arrived in Victoria, fuelling not just hay fever, but also an increased risk of potentially deadly thunderstorm asthma.

At yesterday’s coronavirus press conference, Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng warned Victorians grass pollen season has officially hit.

Professor Cheng said October to December is the highest risk period for thunderstorm asthma.

The phenomenon became well-known after 10 people died in Melbourne in 2016, during the world’s most deadly outbreak of thunderstorm asthma.

Royal Melbourne Hospital allergy specialist, Dr Jo Douglas, said grass pollen levels will escalate sharply over the next month.

“We start counting from the first of October because we know grass pollen levels will start to go up shortly after that time, usually peaking in November,” she told Ross and Russel.

Dr Douglas said those who suffer hay fever but don’t believe they’ve ever had asthma should be alert, because many who were hospitalised during the devastating 2016 thunderstorm asthma event didn’t know they had asthma.

“More than a third of those who presented to hospital on that night didn’t know they had asthma,” she said.

Press PLAY below for more.

How to prepare for a thunderstorm asthma event:

  • Start now. If you have asthma and you know you get hayfever, get on your asthma preventer. Take it now.
  • If there’s a thunderstorm asthma warning, get inside. The pollen fragments that cause the asthma are at the front of the storm-front.
  • Have an asthma plan. Consult your doctor and know what to do if you get asthma symptoms.
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