First case of vaping-related lung illness confirmed in King County

Public Health – Seattle & King County announced Wednesday, Sept. 11 that it has identified a confirmed case of severe lung disease associated with E-cigarette use in a King County teenager.

The patient was hospitalized in August for fever, cough and shortness of breath. He was treated in the intensive care unit and released from the hospital five days later and is now recovering. The patient reported using E-cigarette products over the past three years.

Here’s more from the agency:

We know this teenager reported vaping nicotine with propylene glycol as well as saffron, but our investigation is ongoing and we do not know details about the type of vaping device, where the products were obtained or if other substances were also used.

“E-cigarettes and vaping are not safe. Everyone should be aware of the risk for severe lung disease and avoid using e-cigarettes and vaping at this time until the cause of this outbreak is known,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Youth, young adults and pregnant women should never use e-cigarettes or vape.”

“Although e-cigarettes are not approved as a cigarette smoking cessation method, we are aware that some people use them in this way. People who want to quit or reduce cigarette smoking should consult with their health care provider for effective treatment options.”

Serious lung illness has been reported in people who use a variety of e-cigarette and vape devices and products, including THC- and CBD-containing products as well as nicotine-containing products. The cause or causes of this outbreak remain unknown at this time.

Public Health investigators identified this case using data from hospital emergency departments to identify potential cases of lung illness that may be linked to vaping. This includes reviewing data of cases of serious lung illness that do not have another explanation.  Public Health then gathers more information from providers and patients to assess potential links to vaping. Public Health also has alerted King County healthcare providers and hospitals to report cases of unexplained lung disease in persons who have used e-cigarettes or vaped in the past 90 days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of September 6, 2019, there have been more than 450 suspected cases nationally and several deaths.

As mentioned in the recent health alert on Public Health Insider, nationally many of the patients, but not all, reported recent use of THC-containing products. Some reported using both THC and nicotine-containing products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only.

Public Health recommends

        • Youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not use e-cigarettes.  Surgeon General’s Know the Risks has additional information for youth.
        • Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not use these products while the investigation is ongoing.
        • Promptly seek medical attention if you use e-cigarette products and experience symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or fatigue.
        • Nicotine is highly addictive and can be harmful to the developing brain through 25 years of age.
        • Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain other harmful and potentially harmful ingredients.
        • Adults and youth who are attempting to quit should talk with their doctor about evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your doctor or a support quit line.
        • Youth can contact the quit line, or access resources at https://teen.smokefree.gov/ or the Truth Initiative.
        • If you are concerned about harmful effects from e-cigarette products, call WA Poison Control Center at: 1-800-222-1222.

“We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.”



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