KUALA LUMPUR, August 19 — United States health officials are investigating nearly 100 cases of unexplained lung illnesses associated with vaping and e-cigarette use in 14 states, mostly affecting teenagers and young adults.
The Washington Post reported that a large number of patients have been hospitalised, with some in intensive care and on ventilators.
At least 31 cases have been confirmed linked to vaping and e-cigarettes, and dozens more are under investigation.
Health officials say patients, who suffer symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest pain, have described vaping a variety of substances, including nicotine, marijuana-based products and do-it-yourself “home brews.”
Still, officials reportedly said they don’t know whether the pulmonary illnesses are associated with the e-cigarette devices themselves, or with specific ingredients or contaminants inhaled through them, as no consistent evidence was found.
“We haven’t had that kind of history with vaping to be able to assure anyone — teens included — that this is a safe practice,” said Emily Chapman, chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, a health system headquartered in Minneapolis, which has cared for four teens, ages 16 to 18, with lung illnesses.
Doctors had seen “scattered cases” of lung illnesses tied to vaping before, but they had not identified a pattern until now.
“I think it’s important to understand that vaping is assumed to be safe, and yet we know so little about it,” she said.
Among the case confirmed is Dylan Nelson, from Wisconsin, who was hospitalised with pneumonia, described feeling as if he were breathing through a straw. He said he was coughing, his heart was racing, and his breathing was hard and fast.
“You need to sit your kids down and tell them the dangers of this stuff. If you’re an adult, wise up — this is not good. Look into it before you decide to pick this stuff up and start using this,” Kim Barnes, Nelson’s mother, was quoted saying.