Doctors 'Baffled' by Near-Deaths of Vapers

Dozens have fallen ill in at least 6 states
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 16, 2019 12:20 PM CDT
Doctors 'Baffled' by Near-Deaths of Vapers
Pictured here are Dylan Nelson, of Burlington, Wis., and his sister, Andrea. Dylan was rushed to the hospital in June with severe breathing problems.   (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via AP)

As many as 50 people in at least six states have come down with breathing illnesses that may be linked to e-cigarettes or other vaping products, reports the AP. No deaths have been reported, but at least a few have come close. Some patients have likened onset of the illness to a heart attack, and others to the flu. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and vomiting. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in. Lung specialist Dr. Melodi Pirzada of NYU Winthrop Hospital in New York said she's seen two cases this summer—one of them an athletic 18-year-old who almost died. "We're all baffled," Pirzada said, noting the only common factor was they had been vaping. "My sense is this isn't new. It's new that we're recognizing it," said Dr. Anne Griffiths of Children's Minnesota.

Wisconsin health officials on Thursday said they're seen 15 confirmed cases, with another 15 illnesses under investigation. New York state officials are investigating 10, Illinois has seen at least six, and Minnesota doctors this week said they have four more. California and Indiana have also been looking into reported illnesses. Health officials have only been counting certain lung illnesses in which the person had vaped within three months. Most are teens, but some adult cases have also been reported. No single vaping device or liquid is associated with the illnesses. E-cigarettes, which have been around for years and are now used by more than 10 million Americans, have been described as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes. However, some vaping products have been found to contain potentially harmful substances, including flavoring chemicals.

(More vaping stories.)

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