BURLINGTON, VT – The Vermont Department of Health is asking health care providers to report and watch for any cases of severe respiratory illnesses associated with vaping.
Most recently, The New York Times reports 450 possible cases in the U.S of severe lung illness linked to vaping in 33 states. They also report 3 deaths and a possible fourth.
The health department says they are currently investigating one case in Vermont. Vermont is participating in a national investigation by the CDC.
Vermont’s epidemiologist Patsy Kelso feels now is the time to figure out what’s going on with vaping and severe respiratory illness.
“These cases may have been occurring prior to this and people weren’t really picking up on it but now that we are aware that something significant is going on with exposure to these vaping products and severe pulmonary illness in some people we are trying to figure out what’s going on and are there thing that we can do to make it safer, “said Kelso.
Officials say symptoms start out small over the course of a few days and then worsen.
“What other states have describes is often these patients have worsening of symptoms over two or three day periods. Then get pretty sick with difficulty breathing and then go to the emergency room and some of them get admitted to the ICU needing supplemental oxygen or needed to be intimated.”
Federal officials are currently conducting research.
“The FDA reported that they have received over 100 devices and liquids they are not testing devices because they think the cause of these illness is more likely the liquid inside the vapes,” said Kelso.
One thing officials found inside that liquid was vitamin E acetate.
“They talked about not finding anything that they didn’t expect to find in the nicotine liquids and in the THC liquids one of their findings is that some of them contain vitamin E acetate,” said Kelso.
The CDC investigation is in the early phase but Kelso says it’s important to find out all we can.
“It’s such a new illness presentation and a new risk factor it can really take while before we start to understand it and what the long term consequences may be,” said Kelso.
Vermont is only looking for severe reports associated with vapes.
“We are not interested in anyone who has seasonal allergies and also happens to vape but if they end up with this severe illness and they have a history in the prior 90 days of vaping, then we want to know,” said Kelso.