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Idaho has two cases of lung disease linked to vaping. Health officials are on alert

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Public health officials say Idaho has two confirmed cases of serious respiratory disease among people who vape.

They are the first confirmed cases, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in a news release Tuesday.

The department said five patients in other states who used e-cigarettes or vaping products have died from their diseases. But the patients in Idaho are recovering, officials say.

The department urges people who have trouble breathing after using vaping products to seek medical attention immediately.

“Idaho health care providers are notifying us of patients with severe respiratory symptoms who report vaping in the days or weeks before they became very sick,” said Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist, in the news release.

The reports of illness have been among teenagers and young adults, Tuner said.

“Many teens have dangerous misperceptions that vaping is harmless,” the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in the news release.

Most vaping products contain nicotine, which can affect the developing brain of adolescents, it said — putting another part of the body at risk besides the lungs,

“Using nicotine in adolescence can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs,” it said. “In addition to nicotine, the aerosol users inhale and exhale from vaping can potentially expose them to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. Many vaping products come in kid-friendly flavors making vaping more appealing to young people. Some of the chemicals used to make certain flavors may also have health risks.”

Turner said symptoms of those with lung problems have included coughing, shortness of breath and/or chest pain in the days or weeks before patients were hospitalized. She said other symptoms could include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Public health officials are looking for common threads among patients with the symptoms and asking about the types of vaping products they used, Turner said.

“State and local public health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes or vape, with 450 possible cases reported to date in 33 states and 1 U.S. territory,” the department said. “Consumers who use vaping products and e-cigarettes are urged to avoid buying products from the street and to refrain from modifying or adding any substances to products purchased in stores.”

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