WI health officials investigating 32 severe lung disease cases after reported vaping

As more schools tackle the issue of teen vaping in schools, many don't know where to start.
As more schools tackle the issue of teen vaping in schools, many don't know where to start.(WEAU)
Published: Aug. 29, 2019 at 1:33 PM CDT
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Wisconsin health officials are investigating dozens of cases involving people with severe lung disease who all reported recent vaping.

The latest numbers were released on Thursday by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

DHS reports there are 32 cases being investigated by state and local health officials, with 11 patients whose cases need further investigation. The cases are in Dane, Dodge, Door, Green, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Portage, Racine, Sauk, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha and Winnebago Counties.

DHS says that 89% of the 27 people they interviewed who became sick reported using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to inhale THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

According to DHS, most of the affected people are adolescents and young adults. They report in some cases, older adult age groups have been affected.

So far, no deaths have been reported.

Officials say a majority of cases reported using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to inhale THC-containing products, such as waxes and oils. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. Officials say cartridges could contain chemicals or other additives that are unregulated or unsafe.

Patients have a range of symptoms including: shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss. DHS officials said they went on to have severe respiratory illnesses requiring hospitalization. Some patients needed to be put on ventilators in order to breathe.

Officials said it is "a complex and ongoing investigation, and we are working to gather information about the products used, collect products for testing, and investigate new cases."

They plan to release new information when it becomes available.

On Wednesday, Milwaukee health officials asked everyone to stop using vaping devices after 16 people were hospitalized with a form of pneumonia.

On Aug. 2, DHS reported 11 teenagers and young adults had severe lung disease linked to recent vaping.

"“We strongly urge people to avoid vaping products and e-cigarettes," said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. "Anyone, especially young people who have recently vaped, experiencing unexplained breathing problems should see a doctor.”

Investigation update: The majority of Wisconsin lung disease patients who reported vaping say they used THC products,...

Posted by Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Thursday, August 29, 2019