6 confirmed cases of severe lung illness tied to vaping in Colorado

Photo courtesy: vaping360.com/e-cigarettes/ (Vaping360) / CC BY 2.0
By  | 

DENVER (KKTV) - Colorado health officials are reporting there are six confirmed cases of severe lung illness tied to vaping.

“As our outbreak report shows, this illness is affecting mostly young Coloradans who reported vaping either marijuana, nicotine or both,” said Dr. Daniel Shodell, deputy director of Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology at the department. “Our advice has not changed: We want people to quit vaping until we have a clear understanding of what is causing this illness.”

As of Sept. 12, there have been 380 cases of the lung illness reported in three dozen U.S. states and one U.S. territory, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. At least six people have died.

“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. “Since the department has been actively notifying providers and hospitals of the symptoms, we expect we may get more reported cases.”

Symptoms of sudden and severe lung illness include:
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Cough
- Fatigue
- Possible fever

Officials with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment urge people who vape and currently have a lung illness or may have had one in the past three months to contact their doctor or local health department.

The state health department clarified what a "confirmed case" means, stating, "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 Centers for Disease Control recently reported multiple states are investigating severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes.

"We do not yet know the specific cause of these illnesses," the CDC posted on its website. "The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases."

From the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

What we know (From state health officials):
While we can’t pinpoint the specific cause of these serious lung illnesses, we do know vaping products are poorly regulated and may contain or generate chemicals that are unsafe, potentially making people sick.

No consistent vaping product, substance, or additive has been identified in all cases, nor has any one product or substance been conclusively linked to pulmonary disease in patients. CDC has, however, warned of the potential of lipoid pneumonia associated with this outbreak. This can be caused by inhaling oil.

Vaping products contain more than just harmless water vapor. They are marketed as a “safe” alternative to smoking, but the long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown.

Colorado currently has the highest vaping rates in the nation among teens.

With the large number of cases of lung illness we’re seeing nationally, it’s clear there are dangers associated with vaping.

Click here to read more from the state.