Health officials warn of vaping disease, death


The Dubois County Health Department is urging people to take caution in their use of e-cigarettes after the Indiana State Department of Health confirmed the first death of an Indiana resident due to severe lung injury who reported vaping.

The death comes amid a nationwide investigation into cases of severe pulmonary disease and deaths related to e-cigarette use, vaping or dabbing — which is vaping marijuana oils, extracts or concentrates. In Indiana, the ISDH is investigating 30 cases with patients ranging in age from 16 to 65, with 63% being male, according to a press release from the Dubois County Health Department.

One of those cases resulted in a death, and is the third vaping-related death reported nationwide. The ISDH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and other states responding to reports of similar cases.

“Think before you vape or use any type of e-cigarette, especially because of the investigations going on,” said Jo Ann Spaulding, administrative director at the Dubois County Health Department.

Reported symptoms include cough, shortness of breath and chest pain, as well as gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Some cases also reported fatigue, fever or weight loss. Anyone who experiences these symptoms and has vaped in the past 90 days is encouraged to seek medical care.

The investigations into the cases have not yet identified a single substance or product linking all cases, the press release said. However, the investigation has found that a pulmonary infection does not seem to be the cause since antibiotics alone generally have not improved symptoms.

Spaulding said the investigation began in August and is still ongoing. Until the investigation concludes, she encourages all e-cigarette users to be aware of developments in the investigation and to make informed decisions about vaping.

She said that while a few years ago vaping was being advertised as a safer alternative to smoking, that may not be the case.

“Anytime you’re ingesting or inhaling something, there’s a risk,” Spaulding said.

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