ODH Asks Health Care Providers to Report Severe Pulmonary Illness Cases Following Vaping

State and local public health officials are investigating reports of six Ohioans who experienced severe pulmonary illness following use of e-cigarettes, or vaping. The reports follow a recent national alert to health care providers by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about pulmonary illnesses linked to vaping in at least 16 states, primarily among adolescents and young adults.

The Ohio Department of Health issued a health alert to health care providers asking them to report to local or state public health officials for investigation all suspected cases of serious pulmonary illness where the cause is unclear with a history of vaping.

According to CDC, patient respiratory symptoms have included cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. In some cases, symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks and required hospitalization. Other symptoms reported by some patients included fever, chest pain, weight loss, nausea and diarrhea.
“We are seeing a tremendous increase in vaping among our youth, which is a public health crisis,” said ODH Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH. “There is a perception that vaping is safe, and these reports of serious pulmonary illness linked to e-cigarette or vaping product use show that this is simply not true.”

Besides nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe in can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including cancer-causing chemicals; heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead; volatile organic compounds which can adversely impact health; ultrafine particles that can reach deep into lungs; and flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical used to give butter-like and other flavors that is linked to serious lung disease.

“Anyone who thinks that they may be experiencing serious breathing problems linked to vaping should seek immediate medical attention,” said Acton.