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Doctors eyeing three possible vaping-related lung illnesses in eastern Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Doctors in eastern Washington are keeping a close eye on more possible cases of vaping-related lung illnesses.

If they're confirmed, Washington would have four cases of severe lung disease caused by vaping.

The first confirmed case is a King County teenager who was hospitalized for acute respiratory failure. He spent several days in an intensive care unit in August and is still recovering, public health officials said.

In Spokane, health officials are looking at three patients between 18 and 35 years old to see if their illnesses stem from vaping. The Spokane Regional Health District suspects they are vaping-related cases, but it's not official yet. Their symptoms fall in line with similar cases.

" They may have some symptoms - nausea, vomiting - that's all pretty common if you've got pneumonia, if you've got bronchitis, if you've got the stomach virus," said Bob Lutz, a Spokane County health officer.  "The challenge is that these individuals are being complicated by having abnormal x-rays or CT scans and then give a history of vaping."

Vaping-related lung illness is a growing concern nationwide. More than 450 people have gotten sick, and at least six have died. People who have contracted the severe lung diseases have reported using both e-cigarettes and THC (marijuana).

The state Department of Health is asking health care providers across the state to report any patients who might be suffering from health issues related to vaping.

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