Death toll from Australia's thunderstorm asthma reaches 6


More than 8,500 people were treated at hospitals in Melbourne on Monday and Tuesday after heavy rains and winds, combined with a high pollen count, triggered allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

Spokespeople for the Department of Health and Ms Hennessy have declined to explain what hospitals were expected to do on Monday night and if they were told to enact Code Browns or not.

Details are yet to be released for the sixth victim. However, it is understood the death occurred in the intensive care unit at one of the hospitals in the Eastern Health network.

The four other people who died from complications of thunderstorm asthma were Omar Moujalled, Hope Carnevali, Apollo Papadopoulos, and Clarence Leo.

The latest victim, believed to be a woman, died at the Northern Hospital in Epping on Friday night.

Five patients remain in intensive care in Melbourne hospitals with three in a critical condition and another 12 are in hospital battling a variety of respiratory and related conditions.

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Experts were trying to determine whether asthma thunderstorms could be predicted, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and other government agencies met with pollen scientists Thursday to discuss whether future events could be accurately forecast.

The tiny pollen particles can penetrate deep into lungs, causing asthma attacks in some people.

Monday's asthma thunderstorm is the fourth to strike the city. It follows similar epidemics in November 1987 and November 1989.

In just a four-hour period that day, more than 1,900 calls were made to Ambulance Victoria and an extra 60 ambulances were deployed, along with numerous police and firefighters.

Three patients are still listed in a critical condition.