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Respiratory tract diseases

US authorities investigate 150 cases of respiratory illness linked to e-cigarette use

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating nearly 150 cases of respiratory illness, primarily in teenagers and young people, that are potentially linked to e-cigarette use.

Some 15 US states have reported a total of 149 people attending hospital between 28 June 2019 and 20 August 2019 with symptoms including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath and chest pain after using e-cigarettes in the weeks and months before.

The CDC said the cases are primarily teenagers and young adults. However, some states have also confirmed cases involving older patients.

In a statement published on 21 August 2019, the CDC said that it had “not identified a cause, but all reported cases have e-cigarette product use or ‘vaping’”, adding that “many cases” also included the recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol-containing products.

“However, no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses,” it said.

“The state departments of health are investigating the possible cause of the illness by testing patient specimens and e-cigarette products.”

Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, which reported six confirmed cases as of 8 August 2019, said: “Vaping among teens has increased dramatically over the last several years.

“While the short- and long-term effects of vaping are still being researched, these recent hospitalisations heighten the need for parents talk with their teens about vaping, and for both to understand the consequences and potential dangers of vaping.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206988

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