OCHD Joins Nationwide Investigation into Recent Outbreak of Severe Lung Injury
Associated with Vaping Products
(Toms River) – The number of lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes , or vaping, is emerging as a new public health epidemic. Since September 17, 2019, 530 cases of severe respiratory disease and 7 deaths have been reported from 38 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). New Jersey did not report any deaths, but nine people with a history of vaping have been admitted to New Jersey hospitals with close to two dozen more cases being investigated.
“This latest health concern associated to e-cigarette use demands an urgent response and that’s why the Ocean County Health Department is expanding its campaign to educate and spread awareness of these serious risks. We will continue to work closely with our state and local partners to stay at the forefront of this developing epidemic and keep our residents informed,” explains Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.
The biggest challenge so far for public health officials is identifying the specific cause of these lung injuries. The CDC has yet to single out which ingredient or device may be causing the problem in these cases. The majority of patients have reported using vaping products containing either THC or nicotine, or a combination of both. Another concern is that some people are purchasing these devices and products off the street or adding substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. However, until investigators uncover what’s making people sick, the OCHD is recommending that you stop using all e-cigarette or vaping products.
“The Ocean County Health Department is strongly urging everyone, but especially teens, young adults and women who are pregnant to refrain from using e-cigarette products,” advises Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “We are really concerned for our teens. From 2017 to 2018 there was a 78 percent increase among high school students using e-cigarette products and a 48 percent jump by middle school students. That’s a large number of young people who need to be made aware of these serious health risks from vaping – it really could save their life.”
Most of the patients diagnosed with lung injury associated with vaping complain of pain in the lungs, cough or a shortness of breath. Some patients have gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and vomiting. Anyone that has recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and has any of these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.
“Don’t wait if you think you may be demonstrating any of these symptoms. This is a serious health issue that needs medical attention,” Regenye added. “And even if you’re not sick, it’s time to make a serious effort to stop using e-cigarettes.
For more information about e-cigarette and vaping health risks, or would like to schedule a vaping education program, please visit the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org. The most up-to-date information can be found by visiting the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/lunginjury.
Additionally, please check out our new website at www.phu2.org, to access and learn more about our Public Health is You Too! campaign to help equip you to take simple steps to improve your health.