SYDNEY, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Health authority in the Australian state of Victoria on Wednesday called on residents to stay alert to the increased risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma, as the state has entered the grass pollen season.
Victoria Health warned in a statement that during the grass pollen season which typically runs from the start of October until the end of December, there would be a seasonal increase in asthma and hay fever, as well as the chance of thunderstorm asthma.
According to the statement, Melbourne experienced one of the world's largest epidemic thunderstorm asthma events on Nov. 21, 2016. In the 30 hours from 6:00 p.m. local time, there was a 672 percent increase in respiratory-related presentations to Melbourne and Geelong public hospitals.
The event resulted in 10 deaths and thousands of people suffering breathing difficulties in a very short time.
To enable those who are vulnerable to grass pollen to plan in advance, the state has already activated its forecasting system from Oct. 1 this year.
The health department suggested that on high-risk forecast days, Victorians with asthma or spring hay fever can reduce their risk by avoiding storms, particularly the wind gusts that come before them.
"Epidemic thunderstorm asthma events may happen when certain atmospheric conditions occur on a high grass pollen day. Predicting the likelihood of storm days in Victoria is extremely difficult more than a few days in advance," said Keris Arndt, senior meteorologist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
"The best advice is to take precautions ahead of time and keep up to date with the weather forecast and the epidemic thunderstorm asthma risk forecast issued daily by the Victorian Department of Health," Arndt added. ■