Texas health officials investigating illness possibly tied to vaping

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A Texas teen’s illness may be linked to vaping, according to state health officials.

Investigators with the Texas Department of State Health Services are looking into suspected cases of lung disease tied to vaping, including at least one Texas adolescent.

A DSHS spokesperson said the department received reports of multiple “possible cases” but could not provide a number.

Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People who experience difficulty breathing or other symptoms should get medical attention immediately.

State health officials urge health care providers to ask patients to save vaping fluid for testing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also involved in investigating nearly 100 “possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping” reported in 14 states since June. One-third of those cases were reported in Wisconsin.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also searching for any links between the use of e-cigarettes and risk of seizures or other neurological symptoms, encouraging Americans to submit reports for a national analysis.

“The FDA is continuing its scientific investigation to determine if there’s a direct relationship between the use of e-cigarettes and a risk of seizure or other neurological symptoms,” acting FDA commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless, said August 7. “Although we still don’t have enough information to determine if e-cigarettes are causing these reported incidents, we believe it’s critical to keep the public updated on the information we’ve received based on the agency’s initial request for reports earlier this year.”

With little history on these newer forms of smoking, doctors are largely left in the dark. Vaping seems to be the common thread between many cases.

“We can say what we know in medicine because we have years and years of robust research on what we recommend and we don’t have that with e-cigarettes so that’s the problem,” said Covenant Medical Group pulmonologist Dr. Andrew Shakespeare.

“There’s zero regulation and that’s the scary part of it and that’s the danger of it,” Shakespeare said. “Especially the flavored type of vaping, I think that’s the most suspect in this whole picture.”

“There’s not actually a diagnosis of vaping toxicity as the diagnosis,” he explained. “I think through the process of elimination, we might have an opinion that it might be linked to that, but we don’t even know enough about it to say or to even have a formal diagnosis in our literature.”

E-cigarette maker JUUL Labs issued a statement in response to reports of illnesses arising after vaping:

“Like any health-related events reportedly associated with the use of vapor products, we are monitoring these reports and we have robust safety monitoring systems in place. We understand those events are being reviewed by health authorities. “Reporting also suggests the teenagers were vaping both nicotine and THC (a Schedule 1, controlled substance that we do not sell). Regardless, those reports reaffirm the need to keep all tobacco and nicotine products out of the hands of youth through significant regulation on access and enforcement. We also must ensure illegal products, such as counterfeit, copycat, and those that deliver controlled substances, stay out of the market.”

JUUL Labs spokesperson

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