Who's at risk of thunderstorm asthma? The ryegrass pollen trifecta and lessons learnt from the Melbourne thunderstorm epidemic

Joy Lee, Caroline Kronborg, Robyn E. O'Hehir, Mark Hew

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53 Citations (Scopus)


The Melbourne thunderstorm asthma epidemic in November 2016 was unprecedented in scale and impact. We systematically reviewed our hospital's patients with thunderstorm asthma to identify key risk factors. Of 85 adult patients assessed, the majority (60%) had no prior diagnosis of asthma. However, allergic rhinitis during the grass pollen season was almost universal (99%), as were ryegrass pollen sensitization (100%) and exposure to the outdoor environment during the thunderstorm (94%). Airborne pollen levels on the thunderstorm day were extreme. We conclude that ryegrass pollen sensitization, clinical allergic rhinitis, and acute allergen exposure constitute a risk-factor ‘trifecta’ for thunderstorm asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-148
Number of pages3
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Asthma
  • Hayfever
  • Meteorology
  • Rhinitis
  • Ryegrass
  • Thunderstorm

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