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Thunderstorm Asthma: Mysterious Condition Kills 4 in Australia, More Hospitalized

Nov 24, 2016 06:22 AM EST

Heavy rains are causing more than just a little discomfort in Australia as four people have already succumbed to a medical conditioned triggered by the storms. What's called "thunderstorm asthma" is wreaking havoc having already killed four and landed many more in the emergency room.

According to a report from ABC, thousands of people were affected where so much rain caused rye grass pollen to absorb a lot of moisture, ultimately bursting. This releases tiny particles that get stuck in people's lungs when they inhale it.

Hospital emergency rooms were swamped with patients exhibiting these conditions and there were so many calls that the paramedics had to enlist the help of policemen and firefighters.

According to a report from The Guardian, paramedics fielded about 1,900 emergency calls within five hours in Monday evening, while Melbourne hospitals treated over 8,500 patients throughout Monday and Tuesday.

Victoria's health minister Jill Hennessey said that nine patients remain in the intensive care unit, three in critical condition. Considering there were so many citizens who experienced cardiac arrest and breathing difficulties, the senior doctors were relieved there weren't more deaths during the event.

"I'm pleased we haven't had more deaths than what we have had ... but those deaths are four deaths too many," Hennessy told The Guardian. The confirmed victims are Omar Moujalled, 18, Hope Carnevali, 20, Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, and Clarence Leo.

The spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) revealed that the cases being attributed to thunderstorm asthma are currently under investigation.

He added, "Due to the complex nature and scale of the event further comment is not appropriate until a cause of death has been attributed for these cases. It is expected this will be closely examined as part of the Inspector-General of Emergency Management's state-wide review."

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