For immediate release: Aug. 22, 2019
Jessica Bralish, Director of Communications
DENVER: There is one confirmed case, and one suspected case of sudden and severe lung illness tied to vaping in Colorado. The initial case was reported Tuesday, Aug. 20, and confirmed today. The second case was reported today, Thursday, Aug. 22, and it has not been confirmed. At least one person has been hospitalized.
As of Aug. 19, there have been 120 suspected cases reported in 15 states. Many of the affected people have been hospitalized. All reported vaping liquids or oils that contained either nicotine, marijuana, CBD, synthetic marijuana, or a combination of these.
“This is a serious situation, and people who vape should be on high alert, as should medical providers treating patients who vape,” said Dr. Tista Ghosh, chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Since the department has been actively notifying providers and hospitals of the symptoms, we expect we may get more reported cases.”
Colorado has an unusually high rate of teen and young adult nicotine vaping. Colorado clinicians, school-based health centers, campus health centers, parents, and people who vape should be aware that this outbreak is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms.
• Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
• Chest pain
• Possible fever
People who vape and currently have a lung illness or may have had one in the past three months should contact their doctor or local health department.
Vaping products contain more than just harmless water vapor. The agents causing this illness could possibly be pesticide contamination, residual solvent contamination, additives with unknown inhalation effects, or heavy metals contamination inhaled from vaping products.
Health care providers, school based health centers, and campus health centers should:
• Screen all youth, parents, and caregivers for e-cigarette use and exposure.
• Counsel children and adolescents about the harms of e-cigarette use and clearly communicate the importance of never using e-cigarettes or other nicotine products.
• Report suspected cases to CDPHE’s Disease Reporting Line: 303-692-2700 or 303-370-9395 (after hours). This includes potential cases who presented since June 1, 2019. CDPHE personnel will conduct a medical record review and contact the patients to administer a thorough investigation questionnaire.
• Talk with your kids about the risks of using e-cigarettes. Get the facts for your conversations at www.tobaccofreeco.org/know-the-facts.
• Set a smoke- and vapor-free rule for your home and car.
• Be aware that although vapor products may have the potential to benefit adult smokers who switch completely from cigarettes to vapor products, they are not safe for teens to use. Parents who choose to quit vaping or using any other tobacco product can access free support through the Colorado QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or coquitline.org.
Youth and young adults who vape should:
• Be aware that this illness is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms.
• If you have symptoms of lung illness or may have had symptoms in the past three months, contact your doctor or local health department.
• Learn more about free resources available to help you quit all tobacco products at coquitline.org or 1800-QUITNOW.