1st case of severe vaping-related illness reported in Alberta

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1st severe vaping-related illness reported in Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: The first severe illness related to vaping has been reported in Alberta. The chief medical officer of health confirmed the case Thursday. Quinn Ohler reports – Jan 2, 2020

A patient is recovering at home following Alberta’s first confirmed case of a severe vaping-related illness.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health confirmed the province’s first case of severe vaping-associated lung illness on Thursday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the case was confirmed a few days ago, but would not say where in Alberta it was reported.

Hinshaw said the patient was admitted to hospital for treatment, but would not release any further information about the patient for confidentiality reasons, apart from saying they are now recovering at home.

“We’re not releasing that information because it is a rare event,” Hinshaw said. “In this particular case, the symptoms really were about the lungs.”

The Alberta case is the 15th vaping-associated illness reported in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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Of the 14 other cases, three occurred in British Columbia, two were in New Brunswick, four were reported in Ontario and five happened in Quebec. Of those 14 cases, 11 people required admission to hospital.

“We are actively monitoring the situation in Alberta and working with health officials across Canada to share information and better understand this illness,” Hinshaw said.

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“I want to remind all Albertans that vaping has health risks, and the only way to completely avoid these risks is by not vaping.”

Since September, Alberta physicians have been required to report potential vaping-related illnesses to public health officials, as per a condition under the Public Health Act.

Since then, Hinshaw said they’ve received 12 notifications.

“The other 11 that have been looked into have not met probable or confirmed case definition. So this is the first that has met that case definition.”

The federal government is currently investigating the emergence of vaping-associated lung illness, also known as severe pulmonary illness associated with vaping.

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Both federal and provincial health officials have issued warnings about vaping, as the long-term health impacts are still unknown.

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“Vaping products may contain dozens of chemicals,” according to the government of Canada.

“Most vaping substances available for sale are flavoured and contain nicotine. Canadians should not use vaping products obtained illegally, including any vaping products that contain cannabis.”

Alberta is currently the only province in Canada without vaping legislation.

Last fall, the Alberta government launched a review of Alberta’s Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act, which will also address vaping.

The health minister is expected to receive the final report “in the coming weeks,” the province said Thursday. Any amendments are expected to be in place by this spring.

With files from The Canadian Press. 

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