MEDIA ADVISORY: NKY Health Warns of Severe Lung Illness Related to E-Cigarette Use/Vaping

September 3, 2019


Contact: Laura Brinson

NKY Health Warns of Severe Lung Illness Related to E-Cigarette Use/Vaping

— The CDC is investigating over 200 potential cases of severe lung illness in at least 25 states that are linked to the use of e-cigarettes, including one death. Today, health care providers in Kentucky are being asked to begin reporting cases.

The most common symptoms of this severe lung illness include cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. Based on reports from several states, patients have also experienced fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or weight loss. Although some of these symptoms may be common at this time of year, those who use e-cigarettes and experience any of the above symptoms should contact their health care provider immediately.

While the use of THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana, was documented in many of the cases, no specific product has been identified as the cause for the illness at this time. One common factor, however, was the use of an e-cigarette device.

In response to this serious public health issue, NKY Health is taking the following actions:

  • Alerting health care providers to ask patients about their use of e-cigarettes, especially if they are having serious breathing issues with no known cause.
  • Working with the Kentucky Department for Public Health to monitor for potential cases.
  • Continuing to work with community partners to raise awareness of the dangers of e-cigarette use, and offer resources to prevent first use and to quit using.

According to NKY Health’s District Director of Health, Lynne Saddler, MD, MPH, “This illness highlights the potential dangers of vaping, especially with THC, but also with nicotine. Many people think that e-cigarette liquid just contains water and flavorings; however, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine and/or other chemicals. They do not realize the very serious impact on their lungs and the rest of their body. If you are not using e-cigarettes or vaping, do not start. If you are currently using e-cigarettes or vaping, get help to quit.”

For more information on e-cigarettes, health risks associated with vaping, and how to quit using e-cigarettes or tobacco products, please visit https://nkyhealth.org/individual-or-family/individual-health/e-cigarettes/

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The Northern Kentucky Health Department provides high-quality public health services to more than 400,000 residents of Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties, with a goal of preventing disease, promoting wellness and protecting against health threats. The Health Department seeks to be a nationwide leader in public health, and was one of the first in the country to earn national public health accreditation. For more information, visit www.nkyhealth.org