Vermont reports 1st vaping illness in state; 7th death occurs in California

By Cynthia Prairie
©2019 Telegraph Publishing

The Vermont Department of Health is reporting the first case of severe respiratory illness associated with vaping in a Vermont resident. Five more possible cases are being investigated.

Photo by Edgar Martinez.

A spokeswoman for the department, citing federal HIPAA rules, refused to reveal an age-range, sex or county where the patient lives.

This is just one of more than 380 vaping-related illnesses that, as of Tuesday morning, has claimed seven lives, the latest of which was announced this morning. According to CNN, California health officials say a 40-year-old man died over the weekend from complications related to using e-cigarettes. Deaths have also occurred in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon, officials have reported.

The Vermont Health Department first alerted health care providers on Aug. 29, and has been collaborating with CDC, FDA, and state and local health departments on the multi-state outbreak of lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarette products (devices, liquids, refill pods, cartridges), according to a press release.

The majority of patients, according to the state, have a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many have reported using both THC and nicotine, and some have reported using e-cigarette products containing only nicotine. To date, no specific e-cigarette or vaping product or substance has been linked to all cases.

Symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, may start gradually and may worsen over a period of days to weeks. Some patients have reported fever, chest pain, weight loss, nausea and diarrhea.

Government action on vaping

In the midst of this growing health crisis, jurisdictions are taking action. Among them, California will launch a $20 million ad campaign to warn against the dangers of vaping, CNN reports. And Montgomery County, Md., is proposing to ban vape-product sales near its middle and high schools, a move that could impact 19 of 22 businesses, Bethesda Beat is reporting.

While many convenience stores stock vaping products, only a handful of vaping specialty shops exist within 20 miles of Chester.

“This is a serious disease that can be deadly,” said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s health commission. “The only common link so far is vaping. Until we know more about the specific cause of these illnesses, we strongly recommend that if you vape – stop now. We have resources to help. And if you don’t vape – don’t start.”

For more information about the outbreak, and Vermont’s situation report: healthvermont.gov/vapingillness

  • For help quitting nicotine, including e-cigarettes, go to 802Quits.org – or dial 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • For help to stop using marijuana, including e-cigarettes, go to healthvermont.gov/find-treatment – or dial 2-1-1 to find treatment options near you.
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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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