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First Washington respiratory illness linked to vaping recorded

News release from the Washington State Department of Health: 

OLYMPIA, Washington — Washington State Department of Health (DOH) officials are reporting the first confirmed case of a severe lung disease linked with the use of vaping devices identified by Public Health – Seattle & King County.

“The symptoms of this patient match what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have asked all state and local health jurisdictions to be on the lookout for in regards to the nationwide investigation into this matter,” said Washington State Health Officer Kathy Lofy. “This is the first patient identified in Washington associated with this outbreak.”

Public Health – Seattle & King County has reported the patient is a young adult male who has recovered after being hospitalized in August at a local King County Hospital.

The Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration launched a multi-state investigation regarding an outbreak of severe lung disease associated with using vaping devices/e-cigarette products in August.

While the CDC investigation is ongoing and has not identified a definitive cause, all reported cases have a history of using vaping devices.

Vaping devices — also known as JUULs, e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, mods, tanks, or electronic nicotine delivery systems — can contain nicotine, marijuana, or other substances like flavoring agents and chemicals.

“We’re urging clinicians to report any known hospitalized cases of severe lung disease associated with vaping to their local health department” Lofy said. “We will continue to update the public on the status of the investigation and steps they can take to protect their health. Gov. Inslee asked DOH last week to provide him with policy options including a full ban on flavors. We are not waiting for the federal government and are moving ahead with the governor’s request.”

The healthiest option is to not smoke or vape. Nicotine and marijuana can be harmful in any form. Anyone using tobacco or vaping products and attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco or vaping products, contact your health care provider or access online resources to quit tobacco and/or marijuana.

If you continue to use vaping devices, you should monitor yourself for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health. You should never buy vaping products with THC or other cannabinoids off the street, and you should not modify or add any substances to these products not intended by the manufacturer.

King County public health officials will be updating their blog with the most recent information regarding this case.

The Department of Health will make more information available on their website as it is available.

For more detailed information on the federal investigation, please refer to the CDC web page regarding the matter.

The headline of this story erroneously said a death was linked to vaping. It has been corrected.

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