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Local health department warns of increase in cases of severe lung disease and points to vaping as culprit

This news story was published on September 17, 2019.
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Rick Pierce of Mason City takes a healthy puff from his electronic cigarette in 2012 while enjoying a beverage at Burke’s Bar in Mason City.

MASON CITY – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a Health Advisory regarding severe pulmonary disease associated with e-cigarette use. The CDC is providing information on the multistate outbreak and the symptoms shown by those with severe pulmonary disease, as well as recommendations for the public.

The CDC has announced there are “380 confirmed and probable cases of lung disease” associated with e-cigarette use (vaping) in the United States that have been reported to the agency as of Sept. 11, 2019. Six deaths have been confirmed. Iowa is investigating 8 cases of respiratory illnesses.

Although the cause of e-cigarette-associated pulmonary disease is undetermined, investigations in affected states are ongoing to better characterize the exposures, demographic, clinical, and laboratory features and behaviors of patients.

Based on reports from several states, patients have experienced respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain), and some have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) or non-specific symptoms (fatigue, fever, or weight loss). All patients have reported using e-cigarette products and the symptom onset has ranged from a few days to several weeks after e-cigarette use. Gastrointestinal symptoms sometimes preceded respiratory symptoms. Fever, tachycardia, and elevated white blood cell count have been reported in the absence of an identifiable infectious disease.


To date, no single substance or e-cigarette product has been consistently associated with illness. The CDC is working closely with state health departments to facilitate collecting product specimens for testing at the U.S. FDA Forensic Chemistry Center.


“Since vaping is such a recent development, the lifelong effects of it are still unknown”, states Penny McCaslin, Tobacco Program Coordinator at CG Public Health. “However, this supposedly “safer” alternative is not safe. Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see the proof.”


E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, most also contain flavorings and other chemicals, and some may contain marijuana or other substances. They are known by many different names and come in various shapes, sizes and device types. Devices may be referred to as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” “mods,” “tanks”, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Some devices resemble other tobacco products such as cigarettes; some resemble ordinary household items such as USB flash drives, pens, and flashlights; and others have unique shapes. Use of e-cigarettes is sometimes referred to as “vaping” or “juuling.” E-cigarettes used for dabbing are sometimes called “dab” pens.


“Data shows 42% of North Iowa students have tried vaping,” states McCaslin. “As a community, we need to be educated about the risks of e-cigarettes and take action at all levels to protect our youth.”


E-cigarettes can contain harmful or potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals (e.g., lead), volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing chemicals. Additionally, some e-cigarette products are used to deliver illicit substances; may be acquired from unknown or unauthorized (i.e., “street”) sources; and may be modified for uses that could increase their potential for harm to the user. For example, some e-cigarette pods or cartridges marketed for single use can be refilled with illicit or unknown substances.


Recommendations for the Public

  1. Refrain from using e-cigarette products.
  2. Do not buy these products off the street (e.g., e-cigarette products with THC, other cannabinoids).
  3. Never modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
  4. E-cigarette products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.
  5. If you use e-cigarette products, monitor yourself for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health.
  6. Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications (look for patches, gum, lozenges).
  7. If you are concerned about harmful effects from e-cigarette products, call your local poison control center at: 1-800-222-1222.
  8. Submit detailed reports of any unexpected tobacco or e-cigarette-related health or product issues to the FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portal:


The Iowa Department of Public Health just released a new program for teens who want to quit using tobacco, including e-cigarettes and vape. The new My Life My Quit program includes educational materials designed for teens and created through focus groups with teens, subject matter experts, and community stakeholders. Teens can text or call a toll-free number (855-891-9989) dedicated for teens, or they can visit for real-time coaching.


Parents and healthcare providers can find vaping resources and talking points at


For more information on vaping cessation and programs provided by CG Public Health, call 641-421-9300 or visit

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6 Responses to Local health department warns of increase in cases of severe lung disease and points to vaping as culprit

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    September 17, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Douche flutes are bad for you? Who’d have thought?

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    September 17, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    More BS from the coalition of anti tobacco people. With wide spread media coverage nowadays their projecting this as an epidemic. Hell more people die each and everyday from being obese. They just want to ban smoking. Never going to happen. Maybe we should ban being fat. They are already base your health insurance ‘score’ on being overweight. They can careless about smoking. Go figure.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      September 18, 2019 at 7:59 am

      Are you really that stupid or still high from your last joint? The shit can kill you and with any luck it will.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        September 18, 2019 at 8:14 am

        Are you really that ignorant and uninformed or just drunk from your last legal case? Youre right about vaping but when you start throwing around baseless idotic shit claims like weed somehow makes people into total morons youre just as stupid as the hipster trash. watch some documentaries and read some stuff, educate yourself and stop sounding like a brain damaged baptist from the 30’s. if you look into it and stop being a hyperbolic jackas* you may realize how stupid you really sound with that shit. tell me where its legal that there are more problems? youre trashing a substance that is proven safer than alcohol, proven safer than cigarettes and damn sure safer than vapes. its safer than aspririn. you dont have to do it or advocate its use, i do not. but you can educate yourself and be aware of the facts instead of acting and speaking like a total dipshit based on outdated propaganda from the 1930’s. its the same as being racist or hating certain breeds of dogs. ignorant retarded and simple minded. go to hell. hope you never experience or witness terminal illness with your shit attitude towards marijuana.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      September 18, 2019 at 8:07 am

      LOL youre a retard. the same people that sell cigarettes sell these vapes. is it tough for you? breathing with your mouth open all day must present challenges. can you imagine for a second that you are not right about everything and just mull over the idea that these companies are evil and do not care what they cut the carrier fluids for the nicotine with? hhhmmm? probably didnt occur to you that the same people selling the cigarettes and adding poison are smarter than you diversified and kept the same bag of tricks! personally i wish theyd keep this type of news to themselves and wish more hipsters where as stupid as you are. i compare nicotine vapes to the fine product d-con. it is a poison and human beings know it for sure, the beauty of it is in decades the vermin have never caught on. i support a company that sells hipster poison. if it has to be strawberry unicorn ejaculate flavor than so be it. it drops you freaks within months. that is efficiency. maybe you have stake in the gay little vape shop by the second rate tattoo shop and thats why you say this stupid stuff?

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      September 18, 2019 at 8:18 am

      yes, and to your point obesity kills more people every year than guns, but i dont see you snowflakes out there throwing bricks through mcdonalds windows. you hate fat people and support vaping? youre a gem.