State and federal health officials are investigating almost 100 cases of mysterious lung illnesses linked to vaping and e-cigarette use in 14 states, many of them involving teens and young adults. A large number of those stricken ill have been hospitalized, with some in intensive care and on ventilators.
At least 31 cases have been confirmed as of Friday, state officials said, and dozens more are under investigation. Medical authorities say it is unclear whether patients will fully recover.
Officials are warning clinicians and the public to be on alert for what they describe as a severe and potentially dangerous lung injury. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or chest pain before hospitalization. Health officials said patients have also reported fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that officials are working with health departments in at least five states with confirmed cases — California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin — to determine the cause of the condition after “a cluster of pulmonary illnesses linked to e-cigarette use” was reported among adolescents and young adults in recent weeks. In a call Friday with state health authorities, CDC officials said they were probing 94 possible cases in 14 states.
To date, there is no consistent evidence that an infectious disease is the culprit, CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben said. While some of the cases appear similar, officials said they don’t know whether the illnesses are associated with the e-cigarette devices themselves, or with specific ingredients or contaminants inhaled through them. Health officials have said patients have described vaping a variety of substances, including nicotine, marijuana-based products and do-it-yourself “home brews.”
Underscoring growing concern, CDC officials say they are notifying health-care systems and clinicians across the country about the illnesses and what to watch for. State health departments have also issued warnings.
E-cigarettes have grown in popularity over the past decade despite little research on their long-term effects. In recent years, health authorities have warned of an epidemic of vaping by underage teenagers. The leading brand, Juul, said it is monitoring the reports of illnesses and has “robust safety monitoring systems in place.”