After sending an updated vaping illness notice to health-care facilities, Santa Barbara County Public Health officials recently learned that in July, a hospital admitted a patient determined to be suffering respiratory distress from vaping. 

The patient’s chest x-ray showed characteristics of vape-induced pulmonary problems, explained Paige Batson, deputy director of community health for the department, and no other causative factors were found. The teenager vaped both nicotine and THC, she said, and recovered and was released the next day. Doctors and hospitals have 90 days to report cases, Batson said of the belated information.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 12 deaths are confirmed in the United States in association with the use of vaping products. The cause seems to be chemical, and THC use is considered to play a role. A total of 805 cases were reported as of September 24. About two-thirds of patients were 18-34 years old, and about a quarter between the ages of 18 and 21. Sixteen percent of patients were younger than 18. Among all patients, about three-quarters reported THC use. More than half reported nicotine use.

California’s health department advised all vapers to stop the practice on September 24 due to the high risks linked to vaping. The symptoms of vaping illness are shortness of breath, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. The CDC is collecting leftover vape cartridges for testing as the exact cause of the illness remains unclear.

[Update: Oct. 3, 2019] On October 1, the CDC released injury and death statistics, which had increased by about a third since its report the week previous. Eighteen deaths were confirmed in 15 states; 1,080 total lung injury cases were associated with vaping. The chemical responsible for the lung injuries was unknown, and no single product or substance was common to all the cases. Most, but not all, patients reported using products containing THC.


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