Charles Sturt is helping Wagga Wagga residents to breathe easier

5 SEPTEMBER 2019

Charles Sturt is helping Wagga Wagga residents to breathe  easier

Charles Sturt plays vital role in MLHD spring thunderstorm asthma campaign launch, helping purchase equipment and send alerts during high-risk periods.

  • Charles Sturt and Asthma Australia purchase new Burkard’s Pollen Trap
  • Two pollen counters in Wagga Wagga used in Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s spring asthma campaign
  • Alerts will be issued to asthmatics via SMS or email during high-risk periods

New Burkard Pollen Traps purchased by Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) and Asthma Australia will play a vital role in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s (MLHD) recently-launched spring thunderstorm asthma campaign to help local asthma sufferers cope this season.

Daily updates from the pollen counters will provide information that, in conjunction with thunderstorm warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology, will determine when the MLHD will produce thunderstorm asthma alerts to assist sufferers avoid an asthma event.

Readings in Wagga Wagga will be conducted daily from the end of this week until late October and possibly into November, depending on pollen levels.

The readings will be used to potentially issue three levels of alert – low based on a low pollen count and possible thunderstorms, moderate based on a moderate pollen count and likelihood of a thunderstorm, or high based on severe thunderstorm warnings and a high pollen count.

Members of the public can opt to receive an alert via SMS message and/or email to ensure they are reminded to take proper precautions, such as remaining indoors, and to use their preventative medications and have ready access to their reliever during high-risk periods.

Adjunct lecturer in the Charles Sturt School of Biomedical Sciences Doctor Bruce Graham said information about what causes asthma and how to prevent attacks is more readily available today than it was in the late 1990s.

“The need for local asthma initiatives arose because of a major event that put the outpatient department at the Wagga Base Hospital under stress” Dr Graham said.

“The hospital didn’t have enough equipment and resources to handle the situation, but these days there are a lot more emergency treatment options.  

“It’s good we can get the message out to people with potential respiratory problems.”

Students and staff at the University or personnel on the defence forces bases in Wagga Wagga often move from outside the Murrumbidgee District to an environment with higher pollen levels and Dr Graham said people new to the area might confuse asthma symptoms for a common cold.

“Suddenly they come to Wagga Wagga and they are exposed to novel asthma triggers,” he said.

Charles Sturt assisted in purchasing the pollen collection equipment and University staff are involved in the pollen counting.

The University is providing technical support for the laboratory equipment and the Charles Sturt Division of Information Technology is hosting the website and system that distributes the alerts.

Executive Dean for the Faculty of Science Professor Megan Smith said the University is excited to collaborate on such a beneficial program.

“Charles Sturt is really proud to be part of this vital service for the community of Wagga Wagga,” she said.

“The alert system is a great example of how Charles Sturt partners with key groups in the community to achieve better health outcomes for local people.

“The collaboration includes MLHD, Charles Sturt, the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, Ambulance Service of NSW and Asthma Australia and we use information from the Bureau of Meteorology.”

Information on how to prepare to prevent an asthma event, including those triggered by thunderstorms, is available on the Charles Sturt website and Asthma Australia website.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Bruce Graham or Professor Megan Smith, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on 0429 217 026 or news@csu.edu.au.

Photo caption: (Left to right) Charles Sturt Professor Megan Smith, MLHD Clinical Nurse Consultant for Asthma and Respiratory Robyn Paton and Charles Sturt Dr Bruce Graham.

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Wagga Wagga Charles Sturt University Health Science