Victoria's world-leading forecasting system delivered its first epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecast for 2018 today, marking the start of Victoria's grass pollen season.

Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Angie Bone says with the forecasting system live today, Victorians can monitor the forecast and those at increased risk can take actions to protect themselves on high-risk days.

"The system also enables health professionals and emergency services to be prepared on days of increased risk," Dr Bone said.

"The forecasts are available throughout Victoria's grass pollen season, typically from October through December.

"Following the forecast is just one way people can take action to protect themselves.

"The best way to protect yourself from thunderstorm asthma is through good management of asthma and hay fever," Dr Bone said.

Good management means:

  • recognising asthma and hay fever symptoms
  • discussing these with your doctor or pharmacist
  • taking your medication regularly, as appropriate
  • updating and following your asthma or hay fever management plans.

"We want everyone - especially people with asthma and hay fever - to be as prepared as they can all year round," Dr Bone said.

The monitoring system reads pollen counters located in Parkville, Burwood, Waurn Ponds, Hamilton, Creswick, Bendigo, Dookie and Churchill.

Epidemic thunderstorm asthma is an uncommon phenomenon where a large number of people experience asthma over a short period of time, thought to be triggered by high grass pollen levels and a certain type of thunderstorm.

Where possible, people with asthma and hay fever should avoid exposure to springtime thunderstorms, especially the wind gusts that precede them.

With a public awareness campaign and forecasting in its second year, Victoria is better equipped than ever to prepare for an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event.

Epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasts are available on the VicEmergency website and app. More information about thunderstorm asthma is available on the Better Health Channel.

Pollen observations and forecasts are available at the Melbourne Pollen and Deakin AIRwatch websites, and via the Melbourne Pollen Count App.

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