THUNDERSTORM ASTHMA: A fourth person is dead, state health review commissioned

Photo: Chris Hopkins/Getty Images.

Four people have now been confirmed dead after an outbreak of “thunderstorm asthma” swept across Melbourne on Monday night.

Father-of-two Clarence Leo is believed to have died in the early hours of Tuesday after suffering a massive asthma attack.

The number of deaths linked to Monday’s thunderstorm is likely to continue to rise as number of patients remain in intensive care and one person is critical, according to health minister Jill Hennessy.

Yesterday Apollo Papadopoulos, 35, was the third person to be confirmed dead due to the storm. 20-year-old Hope Carnevali and 18-year-old Omar Moujalled, also died after the storm.

Hennessy has ordered a review into the response to the mass asthma event which saw almost 1900 calls for ambulances in five hours.

She said the inspector-general for Emergency Management would review the demand for help and how authorities could better communicate risks to the community.

Thunderstorm asthma occurs when wind and moisture cause pollen to rupture into small particles that can be inhaled, rather than being filtered out by the nose, causing an asthma attack.

The smaller particles mean it can induce an asthma attack in people who have never had symptoms before. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing.

Anyone with a rye grass allergy is highly susceptible to the illness. Simon Thomsen has more on that here.

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