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2 new cases of vaping-related illness reported in Clark County

Updated September 18, 2019 - 5:42 pm

Two more Clark County residents have been identified as having severe respiratory illness linked to e-cigarette products, the Southern Nevada Health District announced Wednesday.

Both cases involve individuals age 18 or older. Clark County’s first confirmed case, announced last week, was in a person under 18. A pulmonary infection that would provide an alternative diagnosis has not been identified.

All three were hospitalized but now are recovering, the district said.

One of the individuals reported using e-cigarettes with nicotine products only. Two of the individuals reported using products with THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes the high; one also reported using oils with CBD, another component of marijuana. All three reported acquiring their products from a variety of sources, including friends, retail outlets and online purchases, according to the health district.

“While the cause of this outbreak is still unknown, there is an undeniable association with the use of e-cigarette products,” said Dr. Joe Iser, chief health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District. “My continued recommendation is for people not to use any vaping products or e-cigarettes.”

The district did not identify the retail outlets at which products may have been purchased. Nicotine e-cigarette products can be purchased at vape shops or online, while products with THC can be legally purchased in Nevada from marijuana dispensaries.

A spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said his agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “are working closely with state and local health officials to investigate these incidents as quickly as possible.”

The Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Nevada Department of Taxation also has launched an investigation into the “integrity of cannabis lab testing” after determing that batches of marijuana sold from several Las Vegas dispensaries were found to have fungus, bacteria and high levels of mold and yeast.

However, the department has reported no cases of illness in connection with the tainted products and has not linked its investigation to the vaping-related lung infections.

The Nevada Vaping Association, which represents vape businesses that sell nicotine products, urged users to purchase products from legitimate retail stores and use them as directed.

“We are alarmed to hear reports of illness related to nicotine vapor products and we would welcome any additional specific information the (health district) can provide,” said Alex Mazzola, the association’s president.

There have been 380 cases of lung illness associated with vaping reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has revised its number of cases to include only confirmed and probable cases. Previously reported numbers included possible cases still under investigation by local and state health departments. Seven deaths have been reported, the most recent in California.

The CDC continues to report that it has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked in all cases. Many but not all patients report using e-cigarette products that contain THC.

When an individual vapes, a battery-powered electronic cigarette delivers an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. Vape customers can select both a flavor and level of nicotine, if any, in their product.

The health district recommends that e-cigarette products never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women and people who do not currently use tobacco products.

Symptoms associated with the reported illnesses include:

— Respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath or chest pain).

— Gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea).

— Nonspecific symptoms (fatigue, fever, or weight loss).

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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