Alarms are sounding and medical experts on the local, state and federal levels are urging those who use e-cigarette products to listen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Pennsylvania Department of Health and similar agencies in other states and municipalities are investigating a multi-state outbreak of severe pulmonary disease associated with e-cigarette products, the CDC reports.

More than 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products have been reported to the CDC from 33 states and six deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon. A cause has not yet been identified, but all of the cases involve the use of e-cigarette products, the CDC reports.

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that it is investigating 37 suspected cases of lung-related illness linked to vaping from e-cigarettes, devices that deliver an aerosol to the user by heating a liquid that often contains nicotine, flavorings, marijuana or other chemicals.

In an “Investigation Notice” the CDC is advising e-cigarette users to consider not using the devices until more information is available.

Regardless of the ongoing investigation, the CDC urges youth and young adults and women who are pregnant not to use e-cigarettes at all, and for adults who currently use tobacco products to not start using e-cigarettes.

Symptoms reported in the recent outbreak include:

n Cough, shortness of breath or chest pain

n Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

n Fatigue, fever or weight loss

The CDC reports that some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that illness became worse over several weeks. The cases do not appear to be caused by a pulmonary infection because symptoms have generally not improved with antibiotic treatment alone, the CDC reports.

“The investigation has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked to all cases,” the CDC writes in its notice. “Many patients report using e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” an active ingredient in marijuana.

We understand that it’s easy to say all of this is happening elsewhere — not here, not to me.

Until we all know much more about what is really going on, however, is it worth taking the chance?

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.





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