SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the death of a second Illinois individual who had recently vaped and been hospitalized with a severe lung injury. At this time, a total of 153 people in Illinois, ranging in age from 13 to 66 years old, with a median age of 22, have experienced lung injuries after using e-cigarettes or vaping.
IDPH is working with local health departments to investigate another 41 possible cases. Affected individuals have experienced respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Many have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital.
“IDPH is working closely with local health departments and the CDC to investigate these cases and share information with the public as quickly as possible,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “These illnesses are serious and concerning and new cases continue to be reported daily. At this time, there is not a single product or substance linked to all cases, so IDPH urges Illinoisans not to vape or use e-cigarettes products, especially illicit THC based products, while we continue to investigate this outbreak.”
More than 80% of the cases in Illinois report recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products, primarily obtaining them from informal sources such as friends or on the street. Additionally, almost half have also used nicotine-based products. IDPH has submitted 54 products and devices to the FDA for testing since August and has received preliminary results for 17 samples. Initial results from the FDA for Illinois are similar to information previously reported nationwide. Of the samples submitted, vitamin E acetate was found in two of the samples with THC. The FDA continues to perform additional testing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrived in Illinois on August 20 to assist with the investigation. IDPH is also working with local health departments, other state health departments, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the names and types of e-cigarettes, vaping products, and devices, as well as where they were obtained.
At this time, health officials have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries with the only commonality among all cases being patients report the use of vaping products, including e-cigarettes. No one device, compound, or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these illnesses to date; and it may be that there is more than one cause of this lung injury.
Cases have been reported in 33 counties statewide. In order to protect the identity of the affected individuals, additional information is not being provided. The investigation is ongoing, and more information will be shared as it becomes available.
People who experience any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after using e-cigarettes or vaping should seek immediate medical attention. When seeking medical attention, be sure to tell the provider you have vaped in recent weeks or months. Health care providers caring for patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness should ask about a history of vaping or e-cigarette use.
More information about e-cigarettes and vaping can be found on the IDPH website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/tobacco/e-cigarettes-and-vapes. IDPH will update this webpage every Thursday.