Brazos County officials investigating two cases of possible vaping-related illnesses

BRAZOS COUNTY, Tex. (KBTX)- Brazos County health authorities say they are looking at two suspected cases of severe pulmonary disease that may be linked to e-cigarette products, KBTX has confirmed.

Texas is among the 33 states to date, to have reported cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with vaping products containing nicotine and/or tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

Similar cases have occurred in multiple other states, some resulting in hospitalization. In Houston on Monday, health officials said in a news conference three teenagers there were rushed to a hospital with serious lung illnesses after using e-cigarettes.

"This is a very serious outbreak and I urge all parents to check with their children to make sure they are not using e-cigarette products. Adults should also stop using the products," said Dr. David Persse, local health authority for the Houston Health Department and EMS medical director. "These illnesses are life-threatening, even for healthy young people who may not regularly use these products."

Individuals experienced respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Some also experienced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital. Illness severity has varied, and in some cases, severe lung disease has been reported.

Many patients have required supplemental oxygen. Some have required assisted ventilation and oxygenation, and some were intubated.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has accordingly issued a health alert which includes details on the reporting of e-cigarette related pulmonary disease.

Recommendations for the Public:
While this investigation is ongoing, if you are concerned about these specific health risks, consider refraining from using e-cigarette products.

People who experience difficulty breathing, cough, or other symptoms in the days or months after vaping should seek immediate medical attention.

If vaping products used are still available, set them aside (not used) in case it is needed for testing.

Healthcare Providers:
Local healthcare providers have been notified to report any cases of e-cigarette associated severe pulmonary disease to the BCHD by calling the epidemiologist at 979-361-4440, 979-361-5726 (Direct); or
979-446-3188 (after hours).

At the direction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, DSHS will coordinate product specimen submission related to this investigation. If you have collected samples, please contact DSHS at 512-422-0925 for sample submission instructions.

Additional recommendations for the public from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are available here: https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00421.asp