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First confirmed Washington vaping illness reported. Officials recommend you don’t vape

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Washington state’s first vaping-related illness was announced by state health officials Wednesday in Seattle.

The patient, a King County teen, was treated at a Seattle-area hospital for acute respiratory failure due to toxin inhalation in early August.

The patient has since recovered.

“The symptoms of this patient match what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have asked all state and local health jurisdictions to be on the lookout for in regards to the nationwide investigation into this matter,” said Washington State Health Officer Kathy Lofy. “This is the first patient identified in Washington associated with this outbreak.”

Vaping devices — purchased as JUULs, e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, mods, tanks, or electronic nicotine delivery systems — can contain nicotine, cannabis or other substances such as flavoring agents and chemicals.

The teen reportedly vaped nicotine and a saffron-containing product, officials said at news conference at the office for Public Health for Seattle and King County.

Saffron is used as an additive in some vape fluids.

No further details were made available about the specific products or whether the teen used products containing cannabis-derived THC or CBD.

Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health for Seattle and King County, said Wednesday that “e-cigarettes and vaping are not safe. The bottom line is everyone should be aware of the risk of severe lung disease.

Youth, young adults and pregnant women should never use e-cigarettes or vape.”

The Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are in the midst of a multi-state investigation regarding an outbreak of severe lung disease associated with the use of vaping devices/e-cigarette products.

More than 450 possible cases have been reported in 33 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with six deaths confirmed in six states including Oregon and California.

A specific cause of lung disease has not been identified, but federal and state warnings have specifically targeted black-market vaping products or any products modified after manufacturing.

All reported cases have a history of using vaping devices.

“While many of the patients, but not all, reported recent use of THC-containing products, some reported using both THC- and nicotine-containing products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only,” the CDC reported Sept. 6.

At the Seattle news conference, Lofy would not offer any health safety guarantees for products even purchased legally in stores.

“Until we know what’s causing the illness or component, we don’t have any way of knowing,” Lofy said.

The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board has taken note of the latest news.

“We’re gathering facts at this time. We’re in close contact with the Department of Health and others involved in this public health issue,” Brian Smith, communications director for the LCB, told The News Tribune on Wednesday via email.

The Washington state teen reportedly had used vaping devices for three years.

“We’re urging clinicians to report any known hospitalized cases of severe lung disease associated with vaping to their local health department,” Lofy said. “We will continue to update the public on the status of the investigation and steps they can take to protect their health.”

Gov. Jay Inslee last week asked state health officials to come up with policy options, including a full ban on flavored e-cigarettes. On Wednesday, the Trump administration called for a similar ban.

“We are not waiting for the federal government and are moving ahead with the governor’s request,” Lofy said.

State health officials recommend that if you continue to use vaping products that you watch for symptoms such as persistent cough, shortness of breath and/or chest pain and to promptly seek medical attention if you notice changes or have concerns about your condition.

According to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department website: “We know in Pierce County fewer youth are smoking cigarettes but more are vaping.”

Last year, 8 percent of 12th graders in the county reported they had smoked a regular cigarette in the past month, but nearly 30 percent reported vaping activity in the same period, up from 18 percent in 2016, according to the Health Department.

According to the 2018 Pierce County Healthy Youth Survey:

Nearly 1 in 4 10th graders reported using vape products in the past 30 days.

56 percent of 10th graders who vape reported said they do so with nicotine.

22 percent of 10th graders who vape reported using THC (cannabis) in their vape products.

More information

State Department of Health: www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/SevereLungIllness

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: tpchd.org/healthy-people/tobacco-free-living/vaping-and-e-cigarettes

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