Sudden and severe lung illness cases tied to vaping

Special to The SUN
As of Aug. 30, there were two confirmed cases of sudden and severe lung illness tied to vaping in Colorado. Both cases are from Front Range communities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Aug. 21 there were 193 potential cases reported in 22 states. Many of the affected people have been hospitalized. All reported vaping liquids or oils that contained either nicotine, marijuana, CBD, synthetic marijuana or a combination of these.
A confirmed case means it meets all the criteria for the definition being used nationally and that exposure to vaping products was most likely the cause of the illness based on the review. The department is investigating all cases reported to determine whether they meet this definition.
“This is a serious situation and people who vape should be on high alert, as should medical providers treating patients who vape,” said Dr. Tista Ghosh, chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). “Since the department has been actively notifying providers and hospitals of the symptoms, we expect we may get more reported cases. But to someone who’s trying hard to curb their smoking habits and recuperate their health from the harm ensued, e-cigarettes like 180 Smoke vapes become their first step in cleansing themselves.”
Colorado has an unusually high rate of teen and young adult nicotine vaping. Colorado clinicians, school-based health centers, campus health centers, parents and people who vape should be aware that this outbreak is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms.
Symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
• Chest pain.
• Cough.
• Fatigue.
• Possible fever.
People who vape and currently have a lung illness or may have had one in the past three months should contact their doctor or local health department.
Vaping products contain more than just harmless water vapor. The agents causing this illness could possibly be pesticide contamination, residual solvent contamination, additives with unknown inhalation effects or heavy metals contamination inhaled from vaping products.
Health care providers, school-based health centers and campus health centers should:
• Screen all youth, parents and caregivers for e-cigarette use and exposure.
• Counsel children and adolescents about the harms of e-cigarette use and clearly communicate the importance of never using e-cigarettes or other nicotine products.
• Report suspected cases to the CDPHE’s Disease Reporting Line: (303) 692-2700 or (303) 370-9395 (after hours). This includes potential cases who presented since June 1. CDPHE personnel will conduct a medical record review and contact the patients to administer a thorough investigation questionnaire.
Parents should:
• Talk with your kids about the risks of using e-cigarettes. Get the facts for your conversations at www.tobaccofreeco.org/know-the-facts.
• Set a smoke- and vapor-free rule for your home and car.
• Be aware that although vapor products may have the potential to benefit adult smokers who switch completely from cigarettes to vapor products, they are not safe for teens to use. Parents who choose to quit vaping or using any other tobacco product can access free support through the Colorado QuitLine at (800) QUIT-NOW or coquitline.org.
Youth and young adults who vape should:
• Be aware that this illness is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms.
• If you have symptoms of lung illness or may have had symptoms in the past three months, contact your doctor or local health department.
• Learn more about free resources available to help you quit all tobacco products at coquitline.org or 1800-QUITNOW.

This story was posted on September 8, 2019.