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Health officials suspect that e-cigarettes are playing a role in reports involving more than a dozen teens and young adults who have experienced severe breathing problems following vaping, prompting a multi-state health investigation into the type of e-liquid nicotine involved in each case.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued a public health warning on August 2, after three individuals were hospitalized in the state due to vaping breathing problems. The agency is still investigating the cause of the illnesses, however all of the patients reported vaping in the weeks leading up to illness.
Across the border, in neighboring Wisconsin, health officials there say they have seen at least 11 similar cases involving young adults or teens who were hospitalized for respiratory complications since the beginning of July, each involving the use of e-cigarettes.
Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services reported this past Friday that 11 individuals were treated at emergency rooms due to complications including swelling and inflammation of the lungs, fever, nausea, chest pain. The agency reported several of the teenagers and young adults required treatment in Intensive Care Units (ICU) where they had to be placed on ventilators to offer breathing assistance.
Investigators say the victims were generally recognized as healthy, however, all of the patients have self-reported using vaping products routinely prior to the respiratory complications.
State officials have identified all of the Wisconsin cases were reported from southeastern part of the state, and just a short distance south is where all of the Illinois cases were reported, indicating there may be a geographical connection among vape-juice distributors causing the issues.
Illinois and Wisconsin officials are actively investigating the cause of the respiratory illnesses and have begun collecting patient e-cigarette products and liquids to determine the source of the problem.
Teen Vaping Concerns
E-cigarettes and vaping products have become increasingly popular over the last several years. What was intended to be an alternative method for adults to stop smoking traditional cigarettes has turned into nationwide nicotine addiction epidemic among a variety of age ranges.
“Vaping among teens has increased dramatically over the last several years,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the warning. “While the short- and long-term effects of vaping are still being researched, these recent hospitalizations heighten the need for parents talk with their teens about vaping and for both to understand the consequences and potential dangers of vaping.”
Nationwide, vaping among U.S. middle school and high school students has increased 900% from 2011 to 2015 according to the U.S. Surgeon General. The Surgeon General’s report indicated one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students currently use e-cigarette products.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, as of July 31, 2019, poison control centers have managed 2,439 exposure cases about e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine in 2019.
A stream of additional studies published over the last few years have linked e-cigarette use to seizures, pneumonia, fungal infections of the lungs, and respiratory health risks, among many other adverse health effects.
The warnings 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.