Illinois resident who vaped dies after being hospitalized for respiratory illness, health officials say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An Illinois resident who recently vaped has died after being hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

The person's identity was not immediately released and details surrounding the death remain unclear.

"We know this individual had significant severe respiratory illness, and died while hospitalized," said IDPH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Layden.

This death follows multiple hospitalizations potentially linked to vaping and warnings from health officials.

So far this year, a total of 22 people, ranging in age from 17-38, have "experienced respiratory illness after using e-cigarettes or vaping," IDPH said.

"The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help us investigate these cases and they arrived in Illinois on Tuesday."

Cases have been reported in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair, and Will counties -- including Chicago and Champaign.

"At this time here in Illinois, we do not know what is contributing to this respiratory illness." Layden said. "The common link among our 22 cases is all individuals have reported history of recent vaping or use of electronic devices."

Symptoms of respiratory illness include cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. Some patients also said they experienced vomiting and diarrhea.

The CDC said they have found that several patients have acknowledged to health care personnel that they used THC-containing products, according to the IDPH.

The American Vaping Association released a statement:
"Each day of this crisis brings more evidence that street vapes containing THC or other illegal drugs are responsible for these illnesses, not nicotine vaping products...We continue to call on the CDC and FDA to not only promptly investigate these incidents, but also act to ensure that adult smokers know that nicotine vaping products remain a far safer alternative to smoking."

No specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses. Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar symptoms.

Health officials urge anyone experiencing chest pain or difficulty breathing after using e-cigarettes or vaping in the weeks or months prior to seek medical attention.

"We urge people to use caution and consider avoiding the use of such material," Layden said.

IDPH said they are also investigating a dozen others cases of severe lung illness that could be tied to vaping.

There have been 193 potential cases in 22 states since June 28th.

For more information about e-cigarettes and vapes visit the IDPH website.
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