Saskatchewan orders hospitals to report vaping-related severe respiratory illnesses

The Saskatchewan Government says it's keeping an eye out for vaping-related illnesses after a serious case was reported in Ontario and hundreds more cases have been recorded in the United States including seven deaths. A smoker puffs on an electronic cigarette in Halifax on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan. Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press

All cases of severe respiratory disease in Saskatchewan that may be due to vaping must now be reported immediately to local health authorities, the province’s health minister said Friday.

Jim Reiter said the directive was issued so the Health Ministry can monitor vaping-related illnesses.

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“I am concerned with the recent incidents of vaping related illnesses, as well as the high rates of vaping we are seeing among Saskatchewan youth,” Reiter said.

“Although Saskatchewan has not recorded any instances of pulmonary illness associated with vaping similar to the recently reported cases in the United States and Ontario, earlier this week I directed Saskatchewan public health officials to monitor all cases as they present in intensive care units.”

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Notification of the directive under the Public Health Act was sent to all hospital intensive care units in the province by Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.

The Government of Saskatchewan will be proposing legislation to regulate vaping products the same way as tobacco products this fall.

This would include limiting where vaping products can be sold, setting the legal age for buying vaping products, restricting where vaping products can be used, and restricting the advertising and promotion of vape materials, a government spokesperson said.

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The first known suspected vaping-related illness case in Canada was reported earlier this week in London, Ont.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said that the high school-aged youth had to be temporarily put in the intensive care unit, and has since recovered.

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There have been eight vaping-related deaths in the U.S., and over 500 people have been diagnosed with vaping-related illnesses.

“These are, for the most part, people who are otherwise young, healthy, with no pre-existing heart or lung disease who develop severe respiratory infection, get very ill, and unfortunately in some cases, die,” said Shahab.

He said American public health officials learned that those who fell sick had vaped within the past 90 days. And in many cases they did so on a daily basis, using products that were not regulated, such as vaping pods with added

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Health Canada issued a warning to Canadians two weeks ago that vaping products can carry a risk of pulmonary illness. Health Canada has also previously stated there had been no known vaping-related illness reported in the nation.

“Parents, please speak to your children about the risks associated with vaping,” Reiter said.

“Any and all members of the public who have questions about non-severe symptoms they may be having due to or exacerbated by vaping should contact the Healthline at 811 or talk to their health care provider.”

With files from Andrew Graham and Leslie Young and the Canadian Press


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