The Illinois Department of Public Health said that in addition to its 11 confirmed cases it is investigating an additional seven suspected cases of severe pulmonary disease linked to vaping. Twelve of the cases happened in Wisconsin, six in IL, and another four in Minnesota. They had prior exposure to vaping.
Now at least 22 similar cases have been reported in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota in the past month. The only common thread between all the cases is that the patients reported vaping before their symptoms came on. In some cases, patients had to be put on a ventilator and/or admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for treatment. Officials in both Minnesota and IL report symptoms similar to those first reported in Wisconsin, including shortness of breath, cough, fever, trouble breathing, weight loss, and fatigue.
Health experts have pointed to a variety substances in e-liquids they worry may harm cells or contain "dangerous chemicals", but the full extent of e-cigarettes' short- and long-term risks are yet unclear. It is unclear whether that plays a role across these cases.
Twenty-two young people in the Midwest have been hospitalized with serious breathing and lung problems in three Midwestern states, NBC News reports. But state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working to identify the e-cigarettes that the teens had used and what chemicals the patients might have inhaled, according to the statement.
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The findings have baffled experts, since e-cigarettes have been available in the U.S. since 2006 and scientific research so far suggests they are probably a less toxic alternative to smoking.
Anyone who vapes is encouraged to seek medical treatment immediately if they begin experiencing respiratory or other unexplained health issues after vaping.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, previously told CNN that her team has many unanswered questions but has "talked to people from Wisconsin" and is gathering data and running tests.