Public Health warns King County residents about severe lung disease associated with e-cigarette and use of THC products

Updated as of September 11, 2019: We have updated this information on September 11, 2019 here. Public Health has confirmed one case of vaping-related severe lung disease.

The blog post below was published on August 30, 2019.

Health Alert from Dr. Jeff Duchin – Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County

As of August 27, 2019, hundreds of possible cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette use have been reported from 25 states, and more are under investigation. One patient (in Illinois) with a history of recent e-cigarette use with severe pulmonary disease died.

No cases have been reported from Washington state as of August 30, 2019.  (Now updated with new information here.

Many patients have reported using e-cigarettes containing cannabinoid products such as THC or cannabidiol (CBD). To date, no single substance or e-cigarette product has been consistently linked with the illnesses.  

Many patients have described having a cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain and some have had nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms started a few days to several weeks after e-cigarette use. 

  • Youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not use e-cigarettes.  
  • Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer, including THC products and other cannabinoids.
  • Promptly seek medical attention if you use e-cigarette products and experience symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or fatigue.
  • Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should talk with their doctor about evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your doctor or a support quit line.
  • If you are concerned about harmful effects from e-cigarette products, call WA Poison Control Center at: 1-800-222-1222. 

We encourage the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected tobacco or e-cigarette-related health or product issues to the FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portal:

About E-cigarettes

  • E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, most also contain flavorings and other chemicals, and some may contain marijuana or other substances.
  • They can contain harmful or potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals (e.g., lead), volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing chemicals.
  • E-cigarettes are known by many different names and come in many shapes, sizes and device types. Devices may be referred to as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” “mods,” tanks, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Some e-cigarette devices resemble cigarettes; USB flash drives, pens, and flashlights; and others have unique shapes. Use of e-cigarettes is sometimes referred to as “vaping” or “juuling.” E-cigarettes used for dabbing are sometimes called “dab” pens.
  • Some e-cigarette products are used to deliver illicit substances from “the street” that could increase their potential for harm to theuser. For example, some e-cigarette pods or cartridges marketed for single use can be refilled with illicit or unknown substances.
  • E-cigarettes containing nicotine may have the potential to help some individual adult smokers reduce their use of and transition away from cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a quit smoking aid, and the available science is inconclusive on whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking.

Originally posted on 8/30/19