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Death Linked to Vaping
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Death Linked to Vaping

IL Patient with respiratory illness dies

A patient has died after being hospitalized with severe respiratory illness after vaping, the Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday. Health officials also said the number of reported hospitalizations involving respiratory illness after smoking e-cigarettes or vaping has doubled this past week. Earlier this month, IDPH reported a total of nine people had been hospitalized after vaping.

A total of 22 people, ranging in age from 17 to 38, have experienced respiratory illness after using e-cigarettes or vaping. IDPH said it is working with local health departments to investigate another 12 individuals who may also have become ill after vaping.

Vaping-related hospitalizations have been reported in Chicago as well as Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair and Will counties.

Respiratory symptoms reported by those hospitalized after vaping include coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue. Some also experienced vomiting and diarrhea, IDPH said. Patients' symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before they were admitted to hospitals.

"The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming, and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help us investigate these cases and they arrived in Illinois on Tuesday."

IDPH said it is also working with local health departments, other state health departments and the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the names and types of e-cigarettes, vaping products, and devices, as well as where they were obtained.

According to the CDC, in many cases, including Illinois, patients have acknowledged to health care personnel recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products. But no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses.

IPDH declined to provide additional information on patients in order to protect their privacy, saying an investigation is ongoing and more information will be shared as it becomes available.

People who experience any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after using e-cigarettes or vaping in the weeks or months prior to these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Health care providers caring for patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness should ask about a history of vaping or e-cigarette use.

In April, Illinois became the first Midwestern state to ban the purchase of tobacco and tobacco accessories — including vape pens and e-cigarettes — by those under age 21 with the Tobacco 21 bill.

Amid reports of vaping-related illness, Lake County State's Attorney Michael G. Nerheim announced he and his legal partners have filed a lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs. The suit claims Juul is intentionally pushing teens to become hooked on nicotine-aided e-cigarettes through deceptive marketing campaigns.