Vaping related deaths on rise across America

Five people have died and 450 have become ill, according to federal officials

Vaping related deaths on rise across America

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Health officials are again urging people to stop vaping until they figure out why some are coming down with serious breathing illnesses.

On Friday, federal officials said they had identified 450 possible illnesses, and five reported deaths due to vaping-related illnesses.

On Friday, California reported its to join Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois and Oregon.

In Pennsylvania, a 19-year-old was placed on life support with what doctors called a vaping caused critical illness. The man will likely need a lung transplant to survive.

Health officials said no single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses. Most of those who ot sick were vaping THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

A week ago, U.S. officials pegged the number at 215 possible cases in 25 states. Health officials have only been counting certain lung illnesses in which the person had vaped within three months. Most are teens.

"Teens to young adults are coming in with bad pneumonia and we don’t know why but most of them are associated with vaping,” said Dr. Dan Quan, a medical toxicologist at the Maricopa Medical Center.

Dr. Quan said he’s seen two cases within the last week in his hospital alone.

The Arizona State Health Department has not reported any cases yet, but Dr. Quan said it’s changed the way doctors are diagnosing patients.

"Now we have to ask the question, 'hey, do you vape and could that be the cause of why you have a cough, you have a fever, you have low oxygen levels.’ Those are certainly things we need to start asking.”

There’s no secret these have become increasingly popular among the younger generation.

It’s attracted teens like Josiah Holguin.

"The different flavors or just being rebellious,” he said.

But when the smoke finally cleared, Holguin said he realized how dangerous the device could become.

“I decided to stop because I knew it was something I didn’t want to get addicted to," he said. "Because I know a lot of people that are addicted to it and there are a lot of consequences that come with that.”

There are still a lot of questions behind this puzzling lung disease that doctors like Quan are trying to solve.

Medical experts want that e-cigs are more dangerous than regular cigarettes because of the lack of regulation.
Medical experts want that e-cigs are more dangerous than regular cigarettes because of the lack of regulation. (Source: SOURCE: Pexels)

In the meantime he and the CDC suggest just saying no.

“You just have to ween yourself off either one or both. I mean actually both,” he said. "We want you to try and stop smoking and try to stop vaping all together."

The Arizona State Department of Health said it will start work on a public awareness campaign next week to let teens and parents know what they should look out for.

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