FILE PHOTO: A man holds an electronic cigarette as he vapes at a Vape Shop in Monterrey, Mexico February 1, 2019. Picture taken February 1, 2019. FREUTERS/Daniel Becerril
(Reuters) – A person in Illinois who vaped has died after being hospitalized with severe respiratory illness, the state’s health authorities said on Friday, amid reports that dozens of people had been sickened with lung problems linked to vaping.
The individual’s gender and age and when he or she died were not immediately disclosed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The number of reported cases of people who used e-cigarettes or vaped and have been hospitalized with respiratory problems has doubled in the past week to 22, the department said.
It said those hospitalized were aged 17 to 38 and that symptoms included coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Some also suffered vomiting and diarrhea.
“The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. A team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrived in Illinois on Tuesday to help the department investigate the cases, Ezike added.
The CDC said on Aug. 17 that it was probing a “cluster” of lung illnesses that it believes may be linked to e-cigarette use after such cases were reported in 14 states, including Illinois.
E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes, which kill up to half of all lifetime users, according to the World Health Organization. But the long-term health effects of vaping are largely unknown. In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began an investigation into seizures among e-cigarette users.
Reporting by Matthew Lavietes in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis