Respiratory illness related to vaping claims first life in U.S.; Canadian health officials watching situation closely
Health authorities in Illinois say a patient who vaped has died after being hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has not revealed the patient’s gender, age or even how the patient died. The death comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigates 193 cases of severe lung illness across 22 states. In all cases, the CDC says patients reported using e-cigarette products or “vaping.”
Seventeen-year-old Tryston Zohfeld of Aledo, Texas, spent 10 days on life support earlier this summer after his lungs began to fail.
WATCH (Aug. 21, 2019): New concerns about vaping and young people
“I could just feel my heart pounding out of my chest, going a hundred miles an hour,” Zohfeld said.
The teenager was otherwise healthy, though he says he began vaping a few years ago when he was in the eighth grade.
“I think the day they intubated him was probably the worst day of my life,” Zohfeld’s father Matt recalls. “They did the X-ray, and it was completely cloudy, all the way through his lungs.”
Health Canada says it has no evidence of any similar illnesses related to vaping but it is monitoring the situation carefully.
“Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has reached out to her provincial and territorial counterparts so that any similar cases regarding vaping are reported federally as quickly as possible,” a Health Canada spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Global News.
WATCH (Aug. 19, 2019) CDC announces investigation into possible link between vaping and lung disease in teens
According to David Hammond, a public health researcher at the University of Waterloo, most of the health risks associated with vaping come from long-term chronic use. Hammond believes the outbreak of illness in the U.S. is likely related to contaminated products.
“There are thoughts that (some of the patients) may have been vaping THC and so there are contaminants — for example, fungicides — that are used that, when you vape them, can release really toxic chemicals.”
WATCH: Lung illness tied to vaping claims first life in U.S. — CDC
The CDC says it’s working with state departments of health to test patient specimens and e-cigarette products for possible contamination.
Health Canada says that between January 2015 and August 2019, it has received 14 reports of adverse health effects related to e-cigarette use, including:
- One report related to breathing difficulties
- One report related to elevated blood pressure
- One report related to a mini-stroke or other complications
- Four reports related to irritation or allergic reaction
- Seven reports involving other health issues such as mouth burning, dizziness and lung effects
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