Update on sudden and severe lung illness associated with vaping

For immediate release: Aug. 23, 2019
Jessica Bralish, Director of Communications
DENVER: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will provide updates on the numbers of confirmed and suspected cases of sudden and severe lung illness in Colorado associated with vaping every weekday, midday, until further notice. 
Colorado has one confirmed case and three suspected cases of sudden and severe lung illness tied to vaping. Staff members are actively investigating these cases. All the cases involve patients living in the  Front Range area. The confirmed case is a young adult , and all suspected cases are adults.  
"Confirmed case” means it meets all the criteria for the definition being used nationally and that exposure to vaping products was most likely the cause of the illness based on the review.
All cases reported using vaping liquids or oils that contained either nicotine, marijuana, CBD, synthetic marijuana, or a combination of these. 
Colorado has an unusually high rate of teen and young adult nicotine vaping. Colorado clinicians, school-based health centers, campus health centers, parents, and people who vape should be aware that this outbreak is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms. 
Symptoms include:
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing 
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Possible fever
People who vape and currently have a lung illness or may have had one since June 1, 2019 should contact their doctor or local health department. 
Vaping products contain more than just harmless water vapor. The agents causing this illness could possibly be pesticide contamination, residual solvent contamination, additives with unknown inhalation effects, or heavy metals contamination inhaled from vaping products. 
Health care providers, school based health centers, and campus health centers should:
  • Screen all youth, parents, and caregivers for e-cigarette use and exposure.
  • Counsel children and adolescents about the harms of e-cigarette use and clearly communicate the importance of never using e-cigarettes or other nicotine products.
  • Report suspected cases to CDPHE’s Disease Reporting Line: 303-692-2700 or 303-370-9395 (after hours). This includes potential cases who presented since June 1, 2019. CDPHE personnel will conduct a medical record review and contact the patients to administer a thorough investigation questionnaire.
Parents should:
  • Talk with your kids about the risks of using e-cigarettes. Get the facts for your conversations at www.tobaccofreeco.org/know-the-facts.
  • Set a smoke- and vapor-free rule for your home and car.
Youth and young adults who vape should: 
  • Be aware that this illness is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms. 
  • Learn more about free resources available to help you quit all tobacco products at coquitline.org or 1800-QUITNOW.