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Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2009 Sep;9(5):384-90.

Allergens and thunderstorm asthma.

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Department of Allergy, Cambridge University Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Thunderstorm-related asthma is increasingly recognized in many parts of the world. This review focuses on important advances in the understanding of the mechanism of the role of allergens, in particular fungal spores such as Alternaria, in asthma epidemics associated with thunderstorms. From our observations, we have proposed that the prerequisites for this phenomenon are as follows: 1) a sensitized, atopic, asthmatic individual; 2) prior airway hyperresponsiveness before a sudden, large allergen exposure; 3) a large-scale thunderstorm with cold outflow occurring at a time and location during an allergen season in which large numbers of asthmatics are outdoors; and 4) sudden release of large amounts of respirable allergenic fragments, particularly fungal spores such as Alternaria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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