King County teen hospitalized for vaping-related severe lung disease

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KING COUNTY -- A teenager in King County spent several days in intensive care after contracting a severe lung disease from vaping e-cigarettes.

According to Seattle & King County Public Health, it's the first confirmed vaping-related case of severe lung disease in Washington state.

The patient was hospitalized in August for fever, cough and shortness of breath. He was treated in the intensive care unit and released from the hospital five days later and is now recovering. The patient reported using e-cigarette products over the past three years.

The teen reported vaping nicotine with propylene glycol as well as saffron, but the county doesn't know what kind of vaping device he used or where he bought the products.

“E-cigarettes and vaping are not safe. Everyone should be aware of the risk for severe lung disease and avoid using e-cigarettes and vaping at this time until the cause of this outbreak is known,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Youth, young adults and pregnant women should never use e-cigarettes or vape.”

Duchin said people credit e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking cigarettes, but he cautions that vaping is not an approved smoking cessation measure and people who want to quit should consult with a doctor instead.

State and federal health authorities are investigating at least 450 breathing illnesses -- and several deaths -- reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, including THC- and CBD-infused products.

The cause or causes of this outbreak are still under investigation.

Public Health investigators identified this case using data from hospital emergency departments. Investigators looked for serious lung illness that don't have another explanation. Public Health also has alerted King County healthcare providers and hospitals to report cases of unexplained lung disease in persons who have used e-cigarettes or vaped in the past 90 days.

Public Health recommends

  • Youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not use e-cigarettes.  Surgeon General’s Know the Risks has additional information for youth.
  • Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not use these products while the investigation is ongoing.
  • Promptly seek medical attention if you use e-cigarette products and experience symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or fatigue.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive and can be harmful to the developing brain through 25 years of age.
  • Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain other harmful and potentially harmful ingredients.
  • Adults and youth 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.
  • Youth can contact the quit line, or access resources at online or the Truth Initiative.
  • If you are concerned about harmful effects from e-cigarette products, call WA Poison Control Center at: 1-800-222-1222.
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