Local health officials have confirmed a second case of severe lung disease associated with vaping in King County, as reports of the illness climb across the nation.
A woman in her 30s was admitted to a King County hospital in mid-September with shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, according to a statement Friday from Public Health – Seattle & King County. The woman has since been released from the hospital and is recovering.
It’s the fifth known case of someone falling ill after using e-cigarette products in Washington, which declared a statewide outbreak this week. Reports of the illness began emerging this year, and with more than 500 cases nationwide, health officials are scrambling to figure out what is causing e-cigarette users to get sick.
“This recent case confirms that the risk for lung injury from vaping and e-cigarette use is ongoing in King County,” Jeff Duchin, health officer for the agency, said in the statement. “E-cigarettes and vaping are not safe and people should avoid using e-cigarettes and vaping until the cause of this outbreak is known.”
King County health officials are investigating the specific devices and products used by the woman, as well as a teenager who was hospitalized in August.
The woman reported vaping THC products purchased from legal pot shops and nicotine-containing products without THC. Most people who have fallen ill nationally reported using products containing THC, but some reported only using nicotine products.
Vaping devices, such as electronic cigarettes, heat a liquid often containing nicotine to create an aerosol to inhale. Companies claim the devices are alternatives to smoking, but use of the devices, particularly with flavored products, has risen among teenagers in recent years. In King County, one in four high-school seniors has reported using an e-cigarette in the past 90 days, according to Public Health.
Washington lawmakers raised the legal age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21, which will go into effect next year. Last week, President Donald Trump said his administration plans to ban non-tobacco-flavored vaping products amid concern about health risks and the increasing use among teenagers.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Tuesday, there have been seven confirmed deaths from lung injuries related to e-cigarette use. Missouri health officials on Thursday announced an eighth person had died. The Washington Post this week reported that the enforcement arm of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched a criminal probe into the cause of the lung injuries.
Health officials are advising people not to use e-cigarettes or vape products. But if you do, they say to promptly seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, nausea or fatigue.
Public Health investigators confirmed this recent King County case after a health-care provider reported the suspected incident. Officials are advising medical providers to contact the public health office to report cases of unexplained lung disease in people who have used e-cigarettes or vaped in the past 90 days.