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Two are hospitalized with vaping-related lung injuries in Stanislaus County

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Charmaine Monte of the Stanislaus County Office of Education talks about what the CDC has called a health problem of epidemic proportion.
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Charmaine Monte of the Stanislaus County Office of Education talks about what the CDC has called a health problem of epidemic proportion.

Stanislaus County health officials reported that two people suffered lung injuries from vaping cannabis products.

The two individuals were hospitalized after using e-cigarettes to inhale cannabis or cannabis oils, the county Health Services Agency said in a news release Tuesday.

The patients’ names and other details were not released.

The local injuries occurred as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food & Drug Administration investigate more than 200 cases of lung illness tied to vaping in numerous states. Most of those patients had been vaping cannabis compounds but some had used nicotine products.

The injuries in California and 24 other states occurred between late June and late August. Health officials have confirmed one fatality. More than 40 lung-injury cases related to vaping have been reported in California.

Those hospitalized with vaping-related injuries have symptoms including cough, chest pain and trouble breathing. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and fever also have been reported.

Dr. Julie Vaishampayan is recommending that hospitals and other local health care providers inform county public health about suspected vaping injuries.

Local hospitals reported the two cases to county public health in the past week. Health experts are still trying to determine how vaping injures the lungs.

“Nobody has figured it out yet,” Vaishampayan said. “People are hospitalized with what they think is pneumonia and no infectious cause is identified.”

The two local patients had chest x-rays that looked like pneumonia, she said, but didn’t appear to have infections to explain the illness. Vaping items collected from the patients will be sent to the state health department for testing.

The county Health Services Agency advised the public to consider not using e-cigarette products until more is learned from the investigation.

“Because it is causing lung injury for an unknown reason, people need to be aware there appears to be a risk from vaping,” Vaishampayan said.

People who use e-cigarette products are advised to watch for symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. Seek medical attention if you have concerns.

Consumers using battery-operated e-cigarettes inhale heat-vaporized liquids that may contain nicotine, flavors, cannabis or other substances. Though some believe vaping can help smokers quit tobacco, the devices are not FDA-approved for smoking cessation and the liquids in e-cigarettes may contain toxic chemicals, the county Health Services Agency said.

Cannabis-based vaping products should not be purchased off the street. It’s a bad idea to modify vaping products or use substances not intended by the manufacturer.

Regardless of the ongoing investigation, e-cigarettes should not be used by young people, young adults and pregnant women. There are proven treatments, counseling and FDA-approved medications available for smokers who want to kick the habit.

Members of the public are encouraged to report unexpected tobacco or e-cigarette health issues to the Food & Drug Administration at https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov.

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