Asthma at record level after storm

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The Independent Online

Health Editor

The asthma epidemic which followed a violent thunderstorm over parts of England on the evening of 24 June 1994, was larger than any previous outbreak, according to the first detailed analysis of the event.

The epidemic, which saw scores of people visiting casualty departments, put an enormous strain on medical services. Many hospitals in the Thames region, which was hardest hit, ran out of drugs and equipment and had to call in off-duty staff.

Some victims had never previously suffered from asthma, although the majority did report a history of allergic conditions, such as hay fever. Over half were aged between 21 to 40, a survey of 12 casualty departments in London has found.

A report in tomorrow's issue of the British Medical Journal says that the number of patients with asthma or other respiratory problems increased by 10 fold in a thirty hour period.