CDC, state health officials investigating link between vaping and severe lung disease

At least 15 states have identified more than 120 cases of lung disease or injury that could be linked to vaping, a CNN survey of state health departments has...

Posted: Aug 19, 2019 1:21 PM

At least 15 states have identified more than 120 cases of lung disease or injury that could be linked to vaping, a CNN survey of state health departments has found. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday it's investigating severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes in some states.

States with the most cases include Wisconsin, with 15 confirmed cases and 15 more under investigation, according to CNN's survey. Illinois has 10 confirmed cases, while 12 more are under investigation. California is looking into 19 such cases. The New York State Department of Health said Friday it was "actively investigating" 11 cases. Indiana and New Jersey both reported nine cases, of which Indiana has confirmed six.

Health officials in Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah also said they were aware of confirmed or potential cases. A total of 42 states and Washington, DC, provided CNN with a response.

"These latest reports of pulmonary disease in people using vaping products in New York and other states are proof that more study is needed on the long-term health effects of these products," Dr. Howard Zucker, health commissioner for New York State, said in a statement Friday.

The CDC said Saturday it had counted 94 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping in 14 states from June 28 to August 15.

Health officials in multiple states said it is still unclear whether there's a connection between the cases or whether vaping definitively caused these illnesses -- which led to multiple people being hospitalized.

In an email Friday, the CDC urged doctors to collect information and samples of what similar patients might have been vaping. The agency said it was working with some of these states to share information and facilitate testing.

"There are still many unanswered questions, but the health harms emerging from the current epidemic of youth vaping in Minnesota continue to increase," Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the Minnesota Department of Health's medical director and state epidemiologist, said in a statement Tuesday. "We are encouraging providers and parents to be on the look-out for vaping as a cause for unexplained breathing problems and lung injury and disease."

A tough condition to track

The Minnesota Department of Health reported this week that some patients were hospitalized for "multiple weeks," in some cases ending up in the intensive care unit. They came in with symptoms including shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness and chest pain.

Dr. Emily Chapman, chief medical officer at Children's Minnesota, which reported four cases, said in a statement that these illnesses are tricky to diagnose because they can start off looking like a common infection before leading to more serious complications.

They are also tricky to track, experts say, because vaping-related lung disease is not a condition that's mandatory to report. Some health departments said they don't track this data.

Still, states are putting out notices in hopes that doctors will notice the clues and ask the right questions. In Colorado, Georgia and Kansas, health officials have tried to look for cases by analyzing data from emergency departments.

"There is no diagnostic code ... for lung diseases related to vaping. So it'll be hard to follow and track," said Dr. Humberto Choi, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Choi said he has seen three cases himself over the last several months -- and he suspects there were others who didn't think of vaping as a potential cause.

"People had the impression that vaping was something safe," Choi said. "They don't connect new symptoms with vaping."

Choi's state of Ohio, however, is not one of the states where health departments are currently reporting cases, according to the state's health department.

"It's hard to tell what to expect in these cases because it's something new," Choi said.

No clear culprit

Thomas Haupt, a respiratory disease epidemiologist with Wisconsin's Department of Health Services, told CNN earlier this month that the cases in his state were young people who were "otherwise normally healthy, and they were coming in with severe respiratory illnesses, and in some cases, they actually had to go to the intensive care unit and were placed on ventilators."

The lung disease initially looked like it was caused by an infection, "but every test has come back completely negative," he added.

Wisconsin's cases were largely in the southeastern part of the state, Haupt said. This borders the northeastern part of Illinois, where that state's initial patients were hospitalized.

While officials are still trying to determine which products patients used, some states -- including Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York -- said the use of both nicotine and marijuana products had been reported.

In Wisconsin, "all patients reported vaping prior to their hospitalization, but we don't know all the products they used at this time," Andrea Palm, the state's Department of Health Services secretary-designee, said in a statement last week. "The products used could include a number of substances, including nicotine, THC, synthetic cannabinoids, or a combination of these."

Health experts have pointed to a variety substances in e-liquids they worry may harm cells or contain "dangerous chemicals," but the full extent of e-cigarettes' short- and long-term risks are yet unclear. A number of counterfeit and adulterated products have also hit the market, which may have other additives or ingredients. It is unclear whether that plays a role across these cases.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145850

Reported Deaths: 4635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26242603
Cuyahoga17196644
Hamilton12850309
Montgomery7583152
Lucas7187358
Butler5727102
Summit5172249
Marion307247
Mahoning3002279
Warren294748
Stark2771168
Pickaway263444
Lorain227786
Delaware216620
Fairfield203850
Columbiana192180
Licking187562
Trumbull1852131
Clark175938
Wood173772
Clermont165520
Lake158649
Medina143939
Allen138869
Miami138049
Greene137632
Portage109466
Mercer107717
Tuscarawas91620
Erie91244
Wayne90866
Ross86123
Richland80819
Madison78712
Darke76839
Belmont71227
Geauga70547
Hancock67410
Ashtabula65148
Athens6292
Lawrence61618
Shelby5909
Auglaize5709
Putnam55823
Sandusky55520
Huron5337
Union5002
Scioto4746
Ottawa46630
Seneca45314
Preble42213
Muskingum3802
Holmes3777
Jefferson3284
Logan3013
Henry30012
Champaign2943
Perry2889
Defiance28710
Clinton28213
Brown2812
Knox28015
Morrow2522
Washington25123
Hardin25013
Fulton2371
Jackson2344
Coshocton23111
Crawford2276
Fayette2266
Ashland2244
Highland2203
Wyandot20212
Williams2013
Gallia18612
Meigs17210
Pike1670
Hocking1619
Guernsey1578
Carroll1517
Adams1234
Van Wert1143
Monroe10918
Paulding1050
Harrison622
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Angola
52° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 52°
Huntington
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 53°
Decatur
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 59°
Van Wert
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 59°
Mostly Sunny Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events