ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Public Health has identified the state’s second death from a vaping-associated illness, officials announced Wednesday.
The patient had a history of nicotine vaping, but the case is still being reviewed to determine if other substances also may have been used. The number of vaping-associated lung injury cases in Georgia is now 14, including two deaths.
About 20 possible cases are under review. Cases range in age from 18 to 68 years, with a median age of 31 years, and 71% are male.
The Georgia cases were hospitalized and developed pneumonia with no known infectious cause. Symptoms of vaping-associated lung injury, which worsen over time, include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems or any of these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
More than 1,000 vaping-associated lung injuries have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including at least 18 deaths. No specific e-cigarette device or substance has been linked to all cases, although the CDC’s current investigation indicates products containing THC play a role in the outbreak.
Vaping devices and products can be obtained from stores, online retailers, from informal sources or “off the street.” People who vape may not know what is in these products because they can be modified to contain a mix of ingredients including dangerous and illicit substances.
Health officials urge people who vape not to buy vaping products off the street or modify or add any substances to them.
DPH has issued a health advisory detailing the health risks of e-cigarettes, vaping devices and vaping products. The advisory can be found at dph.georgia.gov/vapinglunginjury.
Gov. Brian Kemp and DPH Commissioner Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey urge individuals to follow CDC recommendations and not use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices while this investigation is ongoing. Without knowing the specific cause of vaping-associated lung injury, discontinuing use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices is the best prevention against becoming ill.
“The safety of Georgians is my top priority,” Kemp said. “I applaud the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health for their tireless work to conduct research and inform the public about this serious issue. This public health advisory will notify Georgians of the potential hazards associated with adolescent vaping and encourage youth to take proactive steps to safeguard their health and well-being.
“We are asking convenience stores, vape shops, and leaders in communities throughout Georgia to join us in raising awareness.”
Without knowing the specific cause of vaping-associated lung injury, discontinuing use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices is the best prevention against becoming ill.
“The increasing numbers of vaping-associated lung injury and death are clear indications of the need for people to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and not vape,” Toomey said. “The Georgia Department of Public Health is working closely with Gov. Kemp and the Georgia Department of Education to provide education and awareness about the imminent health risks of vaping and e-cigarette use, especially among adolescents.”
More information about e-cigarettes and vaping can be found at cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html#latest-outbreak-information.