Number of probable vaping-related illness cases in B.C. jumps to 3: Health Canada

A man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine on Aug. 28, 2019. Saskatchewan will restrict the sale of vaping products such as e-cigarettes to people who are over the age of 18. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Robert F. Bukaty

B.C. may now be home to three possible vaping-related illnesses, Health Canada has confirmed.

Two new probable cases have been confirmed as of Wednesday, adding to the first probable case confirmed in October by B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

At that time, Henry said six other cases were being looked at as being related to vaping, but two of them had been ruled out. It’s not yet known whether the final two cases are still being investigated.

Henry said as more vaping-related illnesses are reported and investigated, the number of probable or confirmed cases was likely to rise.

Health Canada and the province are witholding information regarding where in B.C. the cases were reported, as well as the patients’ ages and genders.

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Elsewhere in the country there are five more probable cases in New Brunswick, and two confirmed cases in Quebec, according to Health Canada’s website.

Click to play video: 'B.C. health authority confirms first likely case of vaping-related illness'
B.C. health authority confirms first likely case of vaping-related illness

There are slight differences between a confirmed case and a probable case. In a confirmed case, lung infection has been ruled out, whereas in a probable case it hasn’t been ruled out but the physician or clinical team caring for the patient believes it’s not the main cause of the illness.

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Health Canada said it is closely monitoring vaping illnesses, as well as an investigation in the United States where there’s been a potential breakthrough into what’s causing the severe lung illness.

It could be a chemical compound called vitamin E acetate.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the compound was found in fluid from the lungs of 29 patients across the United States, as well as in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices.

They said the compound is used as a thickener in vaping fluid, particularly in black market vape cartridges.

Click to play video: 'Growing concerns about vaping'
Growing concerns about vaping

A Health Canada spokesperson said vitamin E acetate is not allowed in Canadian cannabis vaping products but that they, along with the Public Health Agency of Canada are looking into it, and remain in close contact with the U.S. on their investigation.

B.C’s Ministry of Health said Henry was not available to speak about the increase in probable cases.

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In a statement, the ministry said all reports about vaping-related illnesses from people, health care providers, health authorities and Health Canada will be forwarded to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on behalf of Henry.

It adds that those reports will be investigated by public health officials.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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