GCHD confirms first local case of serious lung illness

Post Date:09/12/2019 9:48 AM

The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) on Wednesday confirmed a local man has been hospitalized with a serious lung illness following use of e-cigarette products.

The man, ranging in age 18-22 years, currently resides in College Station, where he remains hospitalized for treatment. However, he is officially a resident of Galveston County.

This case fits the profile of the current multi-state outbreak of severe pulmonary disease associated with the use of e-cigarette products. There have been more than 450 possible cases of lung illness included in this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Five deaths have been confirmed.

This is the first case for Galveston County.

“This is a serious situation. These are life-threatening illnesses even for those who are otherwise completely healthy,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County local health authority. “Youth and young adults should not be using e-cigarette products. Parents need to have this conversation with their children.”

This CDC investigation is ongoing and has not identified a cause, but all reported cases have a history of using e-cigarette products including devices, liquids, refill pods and/ or cartridges. E-cigarettes are devices that deliver an aerosol to the user by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. It can also be used to deliver marijuana and other substances.

“Parents may not even realize their child is using these products. E-cigarette devices come in all shapes and sizes and can look like a pen, a USB stick and other everyday items,” Keiser said. “They are filled with volatile organic compounds, nicotine and other chemicals that are just not safe.”

Patients in this investigation have reported symptoms including cough, shortness of breath or diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss. Some patients have reported their symptoms developed over a few days while others have reported their symptoms developed over several weeks. A pulmonary infection does not appear to be causing the symptoms, which have generally not improved with antibiotic treatment alone.

While this investigation is ongoing, if you are concerned about these specific health risks, consider not using e-cigarette products. If you do use e-cigarette products and you experience symptoms, seek medical care promptly.

Regardless of the ongoing investigation, the CDC advises:

  • Youth and young adults should not use e-cigarette products.
  • Women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarette products.
  • Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products.
  • If you do use e-cigarette products, you should not buy these products off the street (for example, e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids).
  • You should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
  • Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your doctor or other medical provider.
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