More wet weather 'could spark outbreak of life-threatening asthma attacks'
Heavy rain stirs fungal
spores such as alternaria, which can cause serious attacks
07:09 GMT, 8 May 2012
Life-threatening asthma cases will rocket this summer if the record-breaking rainfall continues, a leading healthcare expert has warned.
Recent record rainfall has triggered a spike in the number of 'thunderstorm asthma' admissions to hospitals, visits to doctors surgeries and emergency out-of-hours calls.
Medics say the heavy rain stirs fungal spores, especially one identified as alternaria which can cause a life-threatening asthma attack.
Experts say if the wet weather continues as expected, the number of serious asthma cases will rocket
Dr Prasanna Sankaran, a specialist registrar in respiratory medicine at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, told The Daily Telegraph: 'The new cases are often after heavy rain and thunderstorms which can trigger an attack.
'The fungal spores are released by the heavy rain and come up from the soil anywhere that it is damp.
'It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact cause but this is a very under-recognised cause of asthma.'
Dr Sankaran, who also lectures at the University of East Anglia, is calling for more research to be carried out into thunderstorm asthma attacks.
An estimated five million people in the
UK – one million of them children – suffer from asthma which is now the
most common chronic condition in the West.
Strong winds and wet weather caused many people to stay away from the Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall, over the Bank Holiday weekend
Dr Sankaran's warning follows the wettest April since records began and the coldest for more than 20 years.
Wet weather is expected to continue this week with an inch or rain expected to fall within 24 hours.
Met Office forecaster Robin Downton said: 'It's going to be very wet again through Wednesday and Thursday with up to an inch falling in some places.
'England and Wales will bear the brunt of it before things dry up at the weekend. Sadly, it doesn't look like it will last long as things go downhill next week.'