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Colorado vaping-related illnesses now up to 6, health officials say

Posted: 3:16 PM, Sep 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-18 18:21:48-04
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DENVER – Colorado health officials said Wednesday there are now six cases of a severe lung illness linked to vaping in the state – an increase from the four confirmed or suspected cases in Colorado that had been reported as of last week.

But Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials say they are still working to determine the cause of the illnesses and are urging people to stop vaping altogether until they figure that out.

“As our outbreak report shows, this illness is affecting mostly young Coloradans who reported vaping either marijuana, nicotine or both,” said Dr. Daniel Shodell, the Deputy Director of Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology at CDPHE. “Our advice has not changed: We want people to quit vaping until we have a clear understanding of what is causing this illness.”

According to the state, four of the six people were hospitalized. Four of them were males and two were females. Their mean age is 24 and median age is 18. Two cases were reported in Boulder County; and one was reported in each of the following counties: Arapahoe, Denver, Jefferson and Weld.

One of the cases involved a person who vaped both nicotine and marijuana; two cases involved marijuana only; and three cases involved nicotine only, according to the state’s outbreak report.

On Tuesday, officials in California reported another person had died from the lung illness—the seventh person nationwide whose death has been linked to vaping. As of Sept. 12, there are at least 380 cases reported across the country in 36 states and a U.S. territory.

Three weeks ago, the Colorado Department of Health confirmed the second of Colorado’s confirmed cases in a news conference alongside DeGette and a Children’s Hospital Colorado doctor. They warned of the dangers of vaping for people of any age, but particularly children.

President Donald Trump said last week his administration is looking into banning flavored vaping products nationwide, drawing rare praise from Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., who is sponsoring a bill that aims to do just that and who will lead a congressional hearing later this month on the spate of vaping-related illnesses happening across the country.

On Sept. 25, DeGette will chair a House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel hearing on the vaping lung illnesses as the panel’s investigation and investigations by CDC and FDA continue.

Colorado has the highest teen vaping rates in the nation. At the news conference in late August, Dr. Robin Deterding at Children’s Hospital Colorado said that vaping was like inhaling a “chemistry experiment” and was adamant that children not vape.

The 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.