FEDERAL OFFICIALS warned the public Friday not to buy vaping or e-cigarette cartridges or products off the streets as they work to address more than 200 cases of severe lung disease instances associated with using e-cigarette and vaping products nationwide.
As of Tuesday, 215 possible cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 25 states since June, with additional incidents of pulmonary illness under investigation. Federal officials from the CDC and Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that they’re still determining “whether the illnesses may be linked to specific devices, ingredients, or contaminants in the devices, or substances associated with e-cigarette product use.”
“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 respiratory illnesses,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Ned Sharpless, acting FDA commissioner, said in a joint statement.
In response to the uptick, the CDC and FDA issued a Health Alert Network advisory Friday to educate the public and health care professionals about the illnesses, what symptoms to watch for and how to accurately report any probably cases to the federal agencies.
“Regardless of the ongoing investigation, e-cigarette products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products,” they said in the joint statement. “If you use e-cigarette products, monitor yourself for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breaths, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health.”
The alert also recommended that “anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street (e.g., e-cigarette products with THC, other cannabinoids) and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.”
Earlier this week, Utah officials announced a jump from five cases of severe lung disease tied to vaping under investigation to 21. In New Mexico, state health officials investigating eight related cases said all patients that have been interviewed about their vaping use prior to the onset of symptoms reported using vaping cartridges containing Tetra hydro cannabinol, or THC, oil.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin health officials reported this week that 89% of the 27 patients they’ve interviewed have admitted to using THC products, such as waxes or oils, in their vaping devices prior to hospitalization. The department said it is investigating 32 confirmed and probable cases.
“We strongly urge people not to vape,” Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said in a statement.
Reported symptoms range from the gradual start of breathing difficulty, shortness of breath or chest pain before hospitalization to some reporting “mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea, or other symptoms such as fevers or fatigue,” according to the statement. The update in cases under investigation comes a week after Illinois and federal health officials reported the first death from a similar lung disease case tied to vaping.