CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — A man is dead after developing a respiratory illness after vaping.
Illinois health officials said that a patient who contracted a serious lung disease after vaping has died, which could make it the first death in the United States linked to the smoking alternative that has become popular with teens and young adults.
The Illinois Department of Public Health did not release the person’s name, age or where they lived.
“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,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the release. “We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help us investigate these cases and they arrived in Illinois.”
The agency said at least 22 people, ranging in age from 17-38, have developed some type of respiratory illness after vaping or using e-cigarettes. The IDPH said it is working with other health agencies to investigate 12 other cases.
“According to the CDC, in many cases, including Illinois, patients have acknowledged to health care personnel recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products. However, no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses,” the IDHP said. “Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar symptoms.”
Respiratory illness cases connected to vaping have been reported in Chicago and Champaign and in nine counties including Cook, DuPage, Kane and Lake.
The IDPH said anyone who is experiencing any type of chest pain and difficulty breathing after vaping or after using e-cigarettes weeks or months before the symptoms were present is asked to seek medical attention immediately.
Those affected have had symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Some also experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before they went to the hospital.
More information about vaping and e-cigarettes can be found on the IDPH website.
Health officials around the country have been reporting patients getting sick after vaping, two in Connecticut, four in Iowa and six in Ohio that were announced Friday. They are asking doctors and hospitals to tell state health officials about any possible vaping-related lung disease cases they encounter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.