Vaping-Related Illness Is “Becoming An Epidemic”

There have been more than 215 cases of the mysterious ailment

Young people smoke electronic cigarettes as they rest in the centre of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, on August 15, 2019. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Young people smoke electronic cigarettes as they rest in the centre of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, on August 15, 2019. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / September 1, 2019 11:24 am

Vaping has been marketed as a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not dangerous in its own right. As the New York Times reports, doctors and public health officials are baffled by a mysterious vaping-related illness that is “becoming an epidemic.”

More than 215 patients across the country have been treated for the life-threatening illness after vaping. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, vomiting, fever and fatigue. In some cases, the patients — most of whom are otherwise-healthy and in their teens or 20s — have wound up in intensive care or on a ventilator for weeks.

“Something is very wrong,” Dr. Melodi Pirzada, chief pediatric pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., told the publication. On Friday (Aug. 30), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to e-cigarette consumers urging them to stop buying bootleg vaping products and modifying devices.

Health officials are investigating whether a toxin may have slipped into a particular supply of vaping products or if the illness can be traced back to heavy usage. Another theory is that people are reusing cartridges than contain contaminants.

“Inhaling oil into your lungs is extremely dangerous behavior that could result in death,” Thomas Eissenberg, who studies vaping at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the Times. “That is probably the biggest message we can get out of this.”

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