Three cases of acute lung injury related to vaping have been confirmed by the City of Houston's public health authority. It's part of a national outbreak associated with the use of e-cigarettes. So far, the Center for Disease Control has reported more than 450 possible cases across 33 states.
It's an outbreak impacting mostly young people. In the local cases, everyone with a confirmed case of this illness is under 21 years of age.
Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Department said this illness is not an infection, it does not respond to antibiotics and it's very severe. The patients who have this are admitted to hospitals, many of them to the intensive care unit, and many of them are winding up on a ventilator until they can get through it.
Before someone is admitted to a hospital, Persse said this illness typically takes several days to progress. Symptoms include a persistent cough, shortness of breath (even when resting sometimes) and being fatigued easily.
So one of the big questions for now is why is this predominantly impacting young people.
“It's too early to say if there’s a psychology difference between younger people and older people, or maybe that the younger people are vaping different substances or maybe there is some other reason why this is predominately in younger people,” Persse said.
One aspect of this, that Persse said the CDC is looking into, is what’s in the vaping substances.
You can get some vaping liquids that have THC in them, which is an active component of marijuana. In a lot of the cases, the people who became ill were vaping THC-related products, so of course, that raises some questions.
The CDC, American Medical Association and the American Lung Association are all warning people not to use e-cigarettes as authorities continue to investigate what is causing people to get these lung injuries.
While there are still lots of questions about the situation, Persse is urging parents to look out for their kids, find out what they are doing, and educate them on the dangers of vaping.