Vaping Illnesses "More Scary Than Measles"

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Bob Hallinan

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            The national death toll from vaping stands at six…with one of those victims an unidentified woman over 50 from Kansas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been 450 possible cases of lung disease related to vaping reported in 33 states. Now the Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to ban flavored e-cigarettes in the U.S. amid a surge of mysterious lung illnesses tied to vaping. Under the plan, retailers would have to stop selling non-tobacco- flavored e-cigarettes such as mint and menthol, and could only return them to shelves if the products gain FDA approval. The state of Kansas is also asking all hospitals to report any illnesses suspected to be related to vaping.

            One of those cases involved a 17-year-old girl who spent 10 days in The University of Kansas Hospital because she had trouble breathing after using a vape infused with THC for more than nine months. In the video, Dr. Michael Lewis, who heads the pediatric inpatient and intensive care units at The University of Kansas Health System, talks about the girl, whom he treated. He says at first, they thought it might be a bacterial pneumonia, but after the patient’s health rapidly declined, they discovered lung damage, not an infection. Steroids and breathing treatments helped and the girl was able to go home, but it’s unclear if she’ll have long-term damage. He says “You hear a lot about measles outbreaks. This is more scary, I think, than measles at this point.”

            Also in the video, the girl, who asked not to be identified, but hopes her story will be a warning to others. She talks about how scared she was when she couldn’t breathe very well. She says at first, vaping was relaxing, and she believed it to be safer than cigarettes. Then she describes how frightening it was when headaches, fatigue and nausea kicked in, leading to her breathing problems. “You never think it’s going to happen to you,”she said.