LDH reports first vaping-related death in the state

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FILE – In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 file photo, a woman using an electronic cigarette exhales a puff of smoke in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. On Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 1,888 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 49 states. That includes 37 deaths in 24 states. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — The Louisiana Department of Health today confirmed the first death linked to a vaping-associated lung injury in the state.

Privacy laws prevent the release of further information about this individual.

The outbreak in Louisiana now includes 30 total cases. Among the Louisianans with these lung illnesses/injuries, the primary exposure factor is a combination of nicotine and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active ingredient in marijuana.

Assistant secretary of the Office of Public Health Dr. Alex Billioux said, “One death is one too many. We urge people to recognize the dangers of vaping and to stop vaping until more is known about the specific causes of lung injuries that have been occurring in people who use vaping products.”

According to statistics reported by the Department of Health, the median age of people diagnosed with a vaping-related lung illness is 29. The youngest person is 17 and the oldest is 71.

The combination of nicotine and THC accounts for more than half of all illnesses (55%) in Louisiana, though one in five individuals (21%) with EVALI report use of nicotine alone.

Users of vaping products should immediately seek medical attention if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, fever and/or nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and vomiting.

Regardless of the investigation, the Department of Health recommends the following:

  • Discontinue using vaping products.
  • Do not purchase vaping products off the street and do not modify them or use substances not intended for use by the manufacturer.
  • Youth, young adults and pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products, should not use vaping products.
  • Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using vaping products.
  • Adults who are vaping should not smoke combustible cigarettes as a replacement for nicotine. (E-cigarettes and other vaping devices are not FDA approved as smoking cessation tools.)
  • Monitor for symptoms of severe side effects if you do use vaping products. If you do develop symptoms, seek medical attention.

Information about vaping-associated lung injuries is updated weekly by the Louisiana Department of Health here.

Additionally, the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), a 24-hour-a-day, confidential, free tobacco cessation helpline that links people who want to quit using tobacco with trained tobacco cessation specialists who create an individualized plan to quit.

This free service is available in English, Spanish and 150 other languages to people calling from anywhere in Louisiana. TYY and TDD accommodations for hearing impaired and deaf individuals are also available at 1-866-228-4327.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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