Jefferson County Public Health: 3 vaping illnesses reported over weekend in Jefferson County

WATERTOWN, NY —  Increasing numbers of cases of severe pulmonary disease continue to be reported in New York State (NYS) among patients who reported recent use of vape products.  To date, 81 patients have been reported from all regions of NYS.  Reports are being investigated through interviews and medical chart reviews.

Nationally, 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury have been reported from 38 states and 1 U.S. territory.  Additionally, 7 deaths have been confirmed in 6 states.

In NYS, patients have ranged in age from 14-69 years old.  Case interviews have demonstrated patients report using a wide variety of vape products.  The vast majority of patients have reported use of both nicotine and cannabis containing products, including marijuana, THC, and CBD (76%), while some report using cannabis containing products only (20%) and a few report using nicotine containing products only (4%).  A wide range of brand names and packaging descriptions have been reported and testing at Wadsworth Center has revealed that products with identical packaging often have different chemical components.  While vitamin E acetate has been strongly correlated with many cases, a definitive cause has not yet been identified.

Since the weekend, 3 cases from Jefferson County have been reported to the Upstate New York Poison Center.

Hospital emergency departments, urgent care, and primary care providers in Jefferson County are now actively screening patients who present with symptoms for possible severe pulmonary disease.

Clinicians in Jefferson County have been advised by the NYSDOH to report all cases of suspected severe pulmonary disease potentially associated with vape products to the Upstate New York Poison Center in Syracuse. 

Symptoms are primarily respiratory and gastrointestinal, and include:

  • Cough

  • Pleuritic chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss

Any patients experiencing symptoms and who use e-cigarettes and vape products are encouraged to contact your health care provider for further evaluation

Public Education

Neither smoking nor vaping is safe

The Jefferson County Public Health Service strongly advises all residents stop using e-cigarette and vape products while the investigation into the definitive cause of reported vaping-associated illnesses nationwide can be better determined.  While the department understands that some people are substituting e-cigarettes for traditional/ combustible cigarettes, we strongly recommend that people DO NOT return to smoking cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.  While the negative health consequences of traditional/combustible tobacco are well-established through decades of research and clinical practice, the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown.  While evidence exists that adult smokers who completely substitute vaping for traditional smoking reduce their exposure to many of the toxic chemicals and carcinogens present in traditional/combustible tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes are not risk-free and are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a quit smoking aid.  The bottom line is neither smoking nor vaping is safe, and people who do not smoke or vape should not begin to do so.

People seeking to quit smoking and/or vaping should call the NYS Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487) or go online at www.nysmokefree.com.   NYS has also established a Vaping Hotline, at (1-888-364-3046)  Quitline services are FREE and confidential and include expert coaching and support and can provide additional counseling services well as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for people who use e-cigarettes or vape products.

Resources:

From New York State:

New York State Vaping Hotline: 1-888-364-3046
New York State Smokers’ Quitline: 1-866-697-8487

Poison Control contacts:
New York Regional Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
Upstate New York Poison Center: http://www.upstate.edu/poison/