Delaware Health Officials Investigating Possible Cases of Vaping - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Health Officials Investigating Possible Cases of Vaping-related Lung Illnesses

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(Photo: Thomas Hooten/CDC. MGN Online) (Photo: Thomas Hooten/CDC. MGN Online)

DOVER, Del.- The Delaware Division of Public Health said Monday it is participating in a multi-state investigation into an outbreak of severe pulmonary disease reported across the country. As of the time of writing, 33 states - including Delaware and nearby Maryland - have reported possible cases of lung illnesses associated with the use of e-cigarette products (e.g., devices, liquids, refill pods, and cartridges).

While there are no confirmed cases in Delaware at this time, DPH said it is currently investigating three possible cases among Delaware residents. As of Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, there are more than 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products being investigated nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Five deaths related to this outbreak have been confirmed.

“The rising number of lung illnesses across the country that are associated with the use of e-cigarette products is incredibly alarming,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We strongly encourage individuals, especially youth, to avoid using e-cigarette products. I cannot stress this point strongly enough – these illnesses can be life-threatening.” 

DPH said more research needs to be done on the long-term impacts, but the CDC has stated that the aerosol used in e-cigarettes contains harmful substances such as nicotine, lead products and cancer-causing agents.

The CDC launched its investigation into the lung illnesses on Aug. 1, 2019, and has worked closely since then with the Food and Drug Administration, states and other public health partners, and clinicians to determine the cause. Officials said no evidence of infectious diseases has been identified in these patients, therefore lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure. The investigation has not yet identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked to all cases. Many patients report using e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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 such as fatigue, fever, or weight loss. Symptoms typically develop over a period of days but sometimes can manifest over several weeks. 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.

While this investigation is ongoing, DPH strongly encourages people not to use e-cigarette products. People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns. 

Individuals who may be concerned about their health after using an e-cigarette product should contact their health care provider, or the local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. 

For more information and updates on the CDC’s multi-state investigation, go to https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html.

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