Severe Lung Illness associated with “Vaping”

Summary

Many states are investigating cases of patients with severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette product use or “vaping.” E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The liquid can contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid oils, and other substances and additives. As of September 19, 2019, 530 cases of lung illness from 38 states and 1 U.S. territory have been identified.

All cases have a history of e-cigarette or vaping in the weeks to months before symptoms started.  Nationally, most patients reported using products that contain THC. Many patients reported using both THC and nicotine. Some have reported using only products containing nicotine. The specific cause of these illnesses is unknown. Public health investigations are being conducted to better understand the patients, their illnesses, and possible causes.

While these investigations are ongoing, people who are concerned about these health risks should refrain from using e-cigarette or vaping products. People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns.

People who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.  People who are concerned about their health after using an e-cigarette product should contact their healthcare provider or the local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications, rather than e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your healthcare provider. Free cessation counseling may be obtained by contacting the VDH quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or QuitNow.net/Virginia.

Clinicians are encouraged to report possible cases of vaping-associated illnesses to their local health department.

General Information

VDH Tobacco Free Living

Reporting and Surveillance

Clinicians are encouraged to report cases of significant respiratory illness of unclear etiology and a history of "vaping" or "dabbing" to your  local health department. If possible, inquire about the types of drugs (legal or illicit) used and methods of drug use (e.g. smoking, "vaping", "dabbing").

Virginia Situational Update

As of September 19, 2019, there have been 16 confirmed cases, 7 probable cases, and 0 reported deaths associated with this cluster of illness in Virginia.

Region Confirmed Probable Total
Central Region 1 0 1
Eastern Region 5 1 6
Northern Region 6 4 10
Northwest Region 3 1 4
Southwest Region 1 1 2
Total 16 7 23

These data will be updated weekly every Thursday by close of business.