BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX)- The Brazos County Health Department has confirmed three suspected cases of pulmonary disease linked to e-cigarettes.
A local vape shop owner believes illegal THC cartridges are the ones hurting people because of harmful ingredients. (WJHG/WECP)
In the United States, six deaths have been reported, and in Texas, there are 25 cases of severe lung disease in people who reported vaping.
"We are seeing this increase directly linked to e-cigarette usage,” said Brazos County Health Department Health Educator Mary Parrish.
The Texas Department of State Health Services is also investigating 12 more possible cases.
The Brazos County Health Department says an investigation into the direct cause of severe lung damage is ongoing.
"That's the scary thing about e-cigarettes is nobody knows what is in e-cigarettes. They have yet to find a single unit or chemical that is causing these issues,” said Parrish.
Parrish says early signs of pulmonary damage include labored breathing, feeling light-headed, and easily getting winded while doing everyday tasks. She says the damage can also cause lifelong effects, especially in teens.
"Having pulmonary disease at a younger age can stunt the growth of lungs, meaning the lungs don't grow to their full size and it makes breathing more difficult,” said Parrish.
The DSHS also says that about half of the Texas cases have been in teens, and more than half have required hospitalization.
"What we are seeing is very concerning, and even though it may seem like a little bit of harmless fun, there can be lifelong consequences,” said Parrish.