Six cases of vaping-related lung disease reported in Delaware

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At least six reported cases of severe lung disease are being investigated in Delaware as a result of vaping, according to the Division of Public Health (DPH).

DPH continues to participate in a multi-state investigation into an outbreak of severe pulmonary disease reported across the country.

As of today, 38 states, including Delaware, have reported cases of lung injury associated with use of e-cigarette products (e.g., devices, liquids, refill pods, and cartridges). 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies cases as probable or confirmed based on case definition.

Since Sept. 9, 2019, three possible cases of vaping-related lung illnesses are under investigation in Delaware, two of which were identified as meeting the CDC case definition of “probable.”

Four additional cases have since been classified as probable, resulting in a total of six probable cases as of today.

Currently, Delaware does not have any cases classified as confirmed. There are an additional five cases under investigation. 

Of the six probable cases, the individuals range in ages of 15 to 45.

Five are New Castle County residents, and one is from Kent County. Four of the six individuals are men and two are women. 

Some individuals reported use of e-cigarette products containing THC, as well as e-cigarette products containing nicotine, and some reported using e-cigarette products containing only THC.  

As of last Thursday, there were 530 probable or confirmed cases of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products reported throughout the United States, according to the CDC.

Seven deaths related to this outbreak have been reported in six states across the country.

“As we continue to investigate additional cases of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette products, we strongly recommend that individuals avoid using e-cigarette products,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “These illnesses can be life-threatening.” More research needs to be done on the long-term impacts, but the CDC has stated that the aerosol used in e-cigarettes contains harmful substances such as nicotine, lead products and cancer-causing agents.

The CDC launched its investigation into the lung illnesses on Aug. 1, 2019, and has worked closely since then with the Food and Drug Administration, states and other public health partners, and clinicians to determine the cause.

No evidence of infectious diseases has been identified in these patients, therefore lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure.

The investigation has not yet identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked to all cases. Many patients report using e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Based on reports from several states, patients have experienced respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain), and some have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) or non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, fever, or weight loss.

Symptoms typically develop over a period of days but sometimes can manifest over several weeks. Gastrointestinal symptoms sometimes preceded respiratory symptoms. Fever, tachycardia, and elevated white blood cell count have been reported in the absence of an identifiable infectious disease.