Colorado records second case of mystery vaping-related illness
FRISCO — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Thursday that the state has confirmed a second case of a sudden and severe pulmonary illness linked to vaping. Both cases involved adults living on the Front Range. While these are the only official confirmed cases, the department is investigating whether other people have been affected.
In a statement, department officials said all affected people reported using vaping liquids or oils that contained nicotine, marijuana, CBD, synthetic marijuana or a combination of products.
Here in Summit County, more than 40% of Summit High School students reported using an electronic cigarette in the previous 30 days, well over the 27% state average, according to the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado survey. Nearly 75% of local high school students said it would be very easy to get vaporizer products.
The state is urging clinicians, school-based health centers, campus health centers, parents and anyone who vapes to be aware the mysterious respiratory disease and be on the lookout for symptoms.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, trouble breathing, chest pain, coughing, fatigue and possibly a fever. Due to the broad nature of the symptoms, the link between vaping and illness was not made until recently. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control have said that at least one death, in Illinois, has been linked to the vaping illness among hundreds of reported cases across the nation.
Vape users who are showing signs of the respiratory illness, or had such an illness recently, should contact their doctors or local health department to check their symptoms.
Though little is known about the vaping illness, it could be related to contaminants in vape liquids or concentrates, according to the Department of Public Health and Environment. Those contaminates could include pesticides, residual solvents, additives with unknown inhalation effects or heavy metals inhaled with vaping liquids and concentrates, which are still relatively unregulated.
CDC director Robert Redfield and acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner Ned Sharples released a joint statement Friday, Aug. 30, warning consumers not to use bootleg, counterfeit or homemade vaping liquids or concentrates as they may contain high levels of contaminants. They also warned that young people should not be using vape products or e-cigarettes at all.
“Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street (e.g., e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids) and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer,” the statement read. “Regardless of the ongoing investigation, e-cigarette products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”
The state has advised health care providers to screen patients for e-cigarette or vape use, counsel children and adolescents about the harms of vaping products and e-cigarettes, and report suspected cases to the Department of Public Health and Environment disease reporting line at 303-692-2700 or after hours at 303-370-9395. Potential illness presented since June 1 should be reported.
The government is urging parents to talk with their children about the dangers of vaping, and young people who have started vaping are urged to quit. Find free resources to help quit tobacco products by visiting COQuitLine.org or calling 800-784-8669.
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Rep. Dylan Roberts, the Democrat representing Routt and Eagle counties in the Colorado House of Representatives, announced Wednesday he will run for the District 8 state senate seat in the 2022 election.