Vaping illness outbreak climbs to 10 cases in Idaho

Posted at 5:48 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 20:18:53-05

BOISE, Idaho — New data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) shows a hike in the number of vaping-related illnesses in the state.

This mysterious lung injury is now being investigated by federal and state agencies. According to the latest nationwide data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 37 Americans have now reportedly died from vaping-related lung injury. 1888 vaping-related illnesses have been reported nationwide, and now, according to IDHW, a record number of illnesses in the state of Idaho.

E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol users inhale into their lungs. One popular company, Juul,--whose products contain nicotine-- says their e-cigarettes are intended to help adults quit smoking.

"Most of our patients in Idaho have been reporting that they have gastrointestinal symptoms that kind of start first... and then they also all have reported respiratory symptoms, so most of them have reported of shortness of breath, some have said that they actually have chest pain," said Dr. Kathryn Turner, Deputy State Epidemiologist, IDHW.

On Friday, IDHW reported that 10 Idahoans have now been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms. This number is an all-time high.

"They look very similar to the national statistics. Of the 10 cases, 80%-- or 8-- are male. Age range are from 16 to 55 years of age," said Turner.

According to Turner, 9 of the 10 Idahoans in these cases reported having used products in the last 90 days with both THC and nicotine in them. Only one reported using a product-- like Juul-- that contains only nicotine.

"Do not use THC products, especially those that you purchase off the street or through non-formal sources. And do not mix substances," said Turner.

The CDC says the only way to assure that you are not at risk while the investigation continues is to refrain from using of all vaping products, and that if you are an adult using e-cigarettes or vaping products, to not return to smoking cigarettes as a way of avoiding health risks. Instead, they suggest weighing all risks and benefits, and also suggest considering using FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies.

The CDC says e-cigarette users should carefully monitor themselves and see a healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms. For a full list of what to look out for, visit the CDC's website.

Turner says all 10 Idahoans who were hospitalized are now released. To learn more about the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's statewide findings, click here.