14 young people in two states experience lung problems linked to vaping, health officials say

A total of 14 young people in Wisconsin and Illinois have experienced lung damage that doctors believe is linked to vaping, according to health officials in both states.

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The three patients in Illinois and 11 patients in Wisconsin experienced respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Friday. All of the patients reported recent vaping, officials said.

The severity of symptoms among patients varied. Thomas Haupt, a respiratory disease epidemiologist with WDHS told CNN that the patients in Wisconsin were "otherwise normally healthy, and they were coming in with severe respiratory illnesses, and in some cases, they actually had to go to the intensive care unit and were placed on ventilators."

The patients have improved with treatment, however, the long-term health effects are unknown, WDHS said.

The majority of Wisconsin's cases were in the southeastern part of the state, while Illinois' three cases were from the northeastern part of the state, CNN reported. Health officials are investigating whether the cases are linked to a common source.

Vaping and e-cigarettes are relatively new and their health effects are still being researched. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported last year that there is "conclusive evidence that in addition to nicotine, most e-cigarette products contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances."

As of July 31, poison control centers have managed 2,439 exposure cases about e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

However, American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley told CNN that "unless the Department is withholding information, what we know today does not justify discouraging adult smokers from using vaping products as an alternative to cigarettes."

Health officials are still encouraging young adults to understand the potential hazards of e-cigarettes.

“Vaping among teens has increased dramatically over the last several years,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “While the short- and long-term effects of vaping are still being researched, these recent hospitalizations heighten the need for parents talk with their teens about vaping and for both to understand the consequences and potential dangers of vaping.”

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