State health officials ask health-care providers to report cases of any lung problems related to e-cigarettes; they plan to investigate

State health officials will be working closely with health-care providers, local health departments and federal health officials to gather information and investigate any cases of severe pulmonary disease related to use of electronic cigarettes and related products, primarily among teens and young adults.

As of Aug. 27, 215 cases of severe respiratory disease, possibly associated with electronic cigarette use, had been reported in 25 states. One patient in Illinois (no more specific location given) with a history of recent e-cigarette use was hospitalized with severe pulmonary disease and died Aug. 20.

“While there have [been] no reported cases of severe respiratory illness related to e-cigarette or vaping in Kentucky so far, we remain vigilant in alerting health care providers to be on the lookout for patients with severe respiratory symptoms who report using electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices before they got sick,” Dr. Doug Thoroughman, acting state epidemiologist for the state Department for Public Health, said in a news release.

The announcement was made the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  issued an official health advisory asking providers to report cases of severe pulmonary disease of unclear cause and a history of e-cigarette product use within the past 90 days to the state and local health department.

The advisory says, “All patients have reported using e-cigarette products, and the symptom onset has ranged from a few days to several weeks after e-cigarette use. Within two states, recent inhalation of cannabinoid products, THC or cannabidiol, have been reported in many of the patients. To date, no single substance or e-cigarette product has been consistently associated with illness.”

Thoroughman said Kentucky health officials will send out public-health alerts to clinicians early next week with a plan to collect information and investigate any cases reported for common factors on products that may be the source of the illness.

Patients have had symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, with symptoms growing worse over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital. Other symptoms may include fever, chest pain, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Most of the cases reported are among adolescents and young adults, according to the state news release.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, state health officials ask that you refrain from further use of electronic cigarettes but keep the device for possible further investigation. The FDA encourages the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected health issues related to tobacco or e-cigarettes to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration via its online Safety Reporting Portal.

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