E-Cigarette Illnesses Involving Severe Pulmonary Disease Result in CDC Investigation

Federal health officials have launched an investigation into nearly 100 reported hospitalizations linked to the use of e-cigarette illnesses, including including severe pulmonary disease, lung disease, seizures and other health complications.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement on August 17, indicating officials are evaluating the problems and providing resources to more than a dozen states that are actively investigating the e-cigarette illnesses.

From June 28 to August 15, at least 94 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping and e-cigarette use have been reported across 14 states, according to the CDC. The injuries include reports of lung irritation, difficulty breathing and severe respiratory disease requiring ventilator support in the treating hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

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Officials announced they will also be offering consultation to the departments of health in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, and Minnesota, which have all issued public warnings highlighting clusters of vaping related injuries.

Since June, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, New York and New Jersey have all launched public health warnings or investigations, as state officials continue to receive and investigate the cause of severe respiratory problems from vaping marijuana or nicotine cigarettes.

Other states reporting respiratory illnesses linked to e-cigarette use include Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

Investigators from each state have indicated all of the victims hospitalized were generally recognized as healthy, however, all of the patients have self-reported using vaping products routinely prior to the respiratory complications.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued the latest warning on August 13, indicating that at least four teenagers in the state have been admitted to Children’s Minnesota Hospital within the last several weeks, with complaints of extreme breathing difficulties and lung impairment. Officials say all four teens reported using e-cigarette or vaping devices prior to the illness onset, with some reporting they used a vaping liquid laced with THC, which is the ingredient that produces marijuana’s high.

Across Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and California, at least another 20 additional emergency room admissions are actively being investigated for suspected vaping-related respiratory injuries. Preliminary information has indicated all of these cases involved young patients having difficulty breathing when they arrived at the hospital, while some reported chest pain, vomiting, and other respiratory ailments.

The CDC’s action to get involved with the state investigations is designed to help assist in identifying the root cause of the nationwide vaping illnesses, and determine whether they were in fact caused by e-cigarette use. To date, the state investigations have indicated each patient suffering respiratory injuries previously used an e-cigarette or vape product, however, not enough evidence is available to conclusively determine the products as the cause of injury.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, as of July 31, 2019, poison control centers have managed 2,439 exposure cases linked to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine in 2019.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received at least 127 reports of seizures and other neurological symptoms believed to be linked to e-cigarette use. The agency is investigating whether there is a direct relationship between vaping and seizures, or other adverse neurological events.

A stream of additional studies published over the last few years have linked e-cigarette use to seizurespneumoniafungal infections of the lungs, and respiratory health risks, among many other adverse health effects.

The federal investigation announcement come amid a growing number of JUUL vaping lawsuits filed by young adults, teenagers and parents, claiming that the manufacturer of the most popular form of e-cigarette targeted their addictive product toward teens and withheld important safety warnings.


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