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Lung disease and at least one death reported from use of e-cigarettes

This news story was published on August 24, 2019.
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DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Public Health reports that four cases of respiratory illness in young adults with a history of vaping have been reported to the agency.

The patients are young adults (early to mid-20s) from across Iowa who report vaping prior to becoming ill. These cases are still being investigated, but three patients have reported use of vaping products that contain THC.

“We are asking health care providers to look out for cases of severe respiratory illness among teenagers and young adults, and ask about recent vaping and e-cigarette use,” said IDPH Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of 5:00 p.m., August 22, 193 potential cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette product use had been reported by 22 states (CA, CT, IL, IN, IA, MN, MI, NC, NJ, NM, NY, PA, TX, UT, WI, and additional states pending verification).  These were reported between June 28th and August 20th of this year.

CDC is providing consultation to state health departments about a cluster of pulmonary illnesses possibly related to e-cigarette product use, or “vaping,” primarily among adolescents and young adults. Many states have alerted CDC to possible (not confirmed) cases and investigations into these cases are ongoing. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with CDC and state health officials to gather information on any products or substances used and providing technical and laboratory assistance. FDA encourages the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected tobacco- or e-cigarette-related health or product issues to the FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portalexternal icon.‎ While some cases in each of the states are similar and appear to be linked to e-cigarette product use, more information is needed to determine what is causing the illnesses.

Latest Information

  • More than 149 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette product use were reported by 15 states (CA, CT, IL, IN, IA, MN, MI, NC, NJ, NM, NY, PA, TX, UT, and WI) from June 28, 2019, to August 20, 2019.
  • No deaths have been reported.
  • CDC and states have not identified a cause, but all reported cases have e-cigarette product use or “vaping.”
    • Available evidence does not suggest that an infectious disease is the principal cause of the illness.
    • Investigators have not identified any specific product or compound that is linked to all cases.
      • In many cases, patients reported a gradual start of symptoms including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain before hospitalization. Some cases reported mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea and fatigue as well.
      • In many cases, patients have acknowledged recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products while speaking to healthcare personnel or in follow-up interviews by health department staff; however, no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses.
  • Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations. The State Departments of Health are investigating the possible cause of the illness by testing patient specimens and e-cigarette products. State-specific epidemiologic investigations are ongoing.
  • The Wisconsin and Illinois departments of health have asked CDC for assistance investigating the illnesses in their states. The investigation is ongoing and more information will be shared as it is available.

CDC notified U.S. healthcare systems and clinicians about the illnesses and what to watch for via a Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Clinical Action Message. For information about a specific state, contact that state’s health department.

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10 Responses to Lung disease and at least one death reported from use of e-cigarettes

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 27, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Anytime you put something foreign into your lungs, you are bound to have problems.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 26, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    If only a certain retired teacher could give us all the answers….again.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Stuck in heavy traffic breathing in automobile exhaust is way worst. Breathing in dust kicked up from modern farm machinery is bad for the lungs. Most of the sludge they vacuumed from Clear Lake was a direct result of the dirt kicked upped from modern farming since the 50’s. Not to mention cement dust from the north end which wasn’t very good for your lungs. Hell the byproducts kicked out by a home furnace isn’t good for your lungs. And last, but not least, is laying on your ass all day on the couch. Your a bipedal creature by design. Start exercising. Get moving!

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2019 at 11:58 am

    “We do know that e-cigarettes do not emit a harmless aerosol,” he explained. “There’s a variety of harmful ingredients identified, including things like ultrafine particulates, heavy metals like lead and cancer causing chemicals. And flavoring used in e-cigarettes to give it a buttery flavor, diacetyl, it’s been related to severe respiratory illness.”
    Research published just last month from Yale found that Juul vape pens produced chemicals not listed on the package, some of which are known to be irritants.
    “People often assume that these e-liquids are a final product once they are mixed. But the reactions create new molecules in the e-liquids, and it doesn’t just happen in e-liquids from small vape shops, but also in those from the biggest manufacturers in the U.S.,”

  5. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2019 at 11:57 am

    The number of cases has more than doubled over the past week, and the patients are showing extensive, even permanent, lung damage requiring days on a ventilator. Before their situation became that serious, patients reported a gradual start of symptoms that include breathing difficulties, vomiting, nausea, chest pain and fatigue.
    The illnesses are caused by toxic substances like heavy metals, such as lead, or specific flavorings. The lung injuries doctors have been seeing are consistent with chemical inhalation injuries, after all, and the FDA has no control over the ingredients manufacturers are using.

  6. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 25, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Anyone using nicotine in any form should be banned from having government supplied insurance in any form. Why should we pay for people stupid enough to poison themselves?

  7. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    They whine about cigarettes now this. Banning tobacco is like banning booze. Not going to happen. Vape on.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 26, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      Just because it is not banned is no excuse for being stupid and keeping on using it.