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Colorado Department of Health investigating first possible vaping-related death

Posted: 4:48 PM, Oct 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-24 18:48:23-04
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DENVER – The death of an 18-year-old Denver metro area man could be the state’s first related to vaping.

Confirming the man’s cause of death and whether it had anything to do with a widespread severe lung illness linked to vaping will take at least six weeks, pending autopsy results and additional testing, according to Shannon Barbare, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

As of Wednesday, the state was investigating 11 cases of severe lung illness connected to vaping. So far, nine people in Colorado have been hospitalized since state officials confirmed the first case of vaping-related lung illness on Aug. 22.

In five cases, those affected reported using nicotine-only products, while three said they had only used THC-only vaping products. Two people reported using a combination of nicotine and THC-vaping products.

Barbare could not go into further detail about what type of vaping product the 18-year-old was exposed to.

On Tuesday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 1,604 cases of vaping-related lung illness in 49 states across the country. So far, it has confirmed 34 deaths in 24 states, with more deaths under investigation.

MORE: Researchers, doctors in Denver on front line of vaping illness lung research

Colorado lawmakers have tried to curb the use of vaping products among young people since the outbreak began, with Boulder banning the sale of flavored vaping products and Denver raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21.

Health officials have asked anyone who has had a lung illness since June 1 to contact their doctor as the medical and health communities try and identify more cases and the root causes. Typical symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, weight loss and more.

Anyone who believes they might have the illness or know someone who does is asked to contact CDPHE’s Disease Reporting Line at 303-692-2700. After hours, call 303-370-9395. For more information on quitting, visit www.COquitline.org.