In all, 28 cases of the vaping-related respiratory illness have been reported in Utah, part of a wave of 380 reported by 36 states and the US Virgin Islands since April, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update on September 12. The new case count is lower than the 450 total CDC reported last week — but that’s because the agency had been reporting possible cases, and CDC now came out with the new confirmed and probable definitions to classify illnesses. Read Full Article
Doctors are treating a disease of unknown origin
Patients who have come down with the mystery illness started to experience symptoms anywhere from a few days to several weeks after using e-cigarettes. So far, the patients have a few things in common, according to the CDC. They suffered from respiratory symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and weight loss were also common symptoms. (Harris, the Salt Lake City pulmonologist, said that in her patients, the breathing troubles always followed the gastrointestinal issues.)
Most are in their late teens and 20s with no underlying health issues, the CDC said. Some have gotten seriously ill, even winding up in intensive care units on oxygen support through ventilators or intubation.
A New England Journal of Medicine study of 53 cases in Illinois and Wisconsin squares with the CDC’s findings. According to the report authors, patients were mostly male, generally healthy when they became ill, and had a median age of 19. Nearly all had to be hospitalized, and over half required management in the intensive care unit. Every patient reported e-cigarette use in the past 90 days, most reported using THC-based products, and the majority also reported using a nicotine-based product.
In a related editorial, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s David C. Christiani wrote that it might be the interaction of multiple ingredients that’s having toxic side effects. “E-cigarette fluids have been shown to contain at least six groups of potentially toxic compounds. … The effect of adding ingredients such as THC or CBD to this mix needs to be investigated.”
On lung X-rays, the lungs appear to be inflamed, as if a pathogen infected them. But when doctors have tried to find a common bacterial or viral source of the disease, they’ve failed to turn anything up. Again, patients only have vaping in common, but no specific products or substances link all the cases together. That’s why an investigation is underway, and officials are urging doctors and the public to report cases. People who are concerned they’ve been harmed by an e-cigarette product should also contact their health care provider or local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.