“People are dying from vaping and there’s hundreds of new cases each week of serious and fatal lung injuries from vaping,” Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said in a video on the agency’s website. At least seven other “probable/confirmed vaping related cases” have happened in that state alone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of vaping-related illnesses in a recent outbreak rose from 380 to 530 in just one week. More than half of those who have gotten sick are under the age of 25. Several deaths have also been reported. Some patients with this mysterious lung disease went from healthy one day, to sick the next, and just a few days later, “being on death’s door.” Several weeks after hospitalization, one 20-year-old man reported still suffering from diminished lung capacity and short-term memory loss. A CDC health official has urged people to discontinue using e-cigarettes and other vaping products while the agency investigates this deadly illness outbreak.

“Until we know more, if you are concerned about specific health risks, CDC recommends you do not use e-cigarettes or vaping products,” said CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat in a public statement.

Most of those who have fallen ill report vaping THC, the compound that produces a high in marijuana, she said. Many say they vape THC and nicotine, the addictive chemical used in e-cigarettes. Some, however, were only vaping nicotine.

The situation is “challenging,” she said. “…Patients may have been exposed to a variety of products and substances, may not know the contents or sources of these products, and in some instances may be reluctant or too ill to disclose all the details of interest.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also investigating. The agency is analyzing more than 150 samples for the presence of a broad range of substances, including nicotine, THC, other cannabinoids, cutting agents, opioids, toxins and poisons, according to a report from CNBC.

Even before these illnesses crept to an epidemic level, pregnant women were urged to not vape. According to an article published on Web MD, “…babies face the same risks from nicotine exposure [with vaping], which include brain and lung damage and increasing risks of sudden infant death syndrome,” said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. 

Pregnant or not, vaping is a danger. Once touted as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products, the risks from vaping are not well understood. E-cigarettes were brought on the market with little scientific study, according to a report, and therefore, have a lot of unknowns. Due to this significant outbreak of lung illnesses and deaths among people who vape, the best advice experts say is to stop using vapes and/or e-cigarettes.  If you need help you can find a smoking cession program or nicotine replacement therapy, like gums and patches.

Learn more about the quit smoking program run by the State of Wyoming’s Health Department here: https://www.quitwyo.org/.