BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Health officials in Kansas are confirming the first death in the state from an outbreak of a serious lung disease linked to vaping or using e-cigarettes.
This makes it the sixth such death reported nationwide. Investigators say the person was over 50-years-old and had a history of underlying health issues.
The person was hospitalized with quote “symptoms that progressed rapidly.” The C-D-C says there are 450 confirmed or suspected cases of this illness in 33 states.
Alabama State health officials tell us they’re investigating five possible cases in Alabama. No word yet on where those are, but doctors are being asked to report any case of lung disease or respiratory problems of patients who vape or use e-cigarettes.
Vaping was advertised as being less addictive and better than smoking tobacco. The Jefferson County Public Health Officer is not buying it.
“I can say there is a lot we don’t know about the different chemicals and what those long-term effects may be. We do know e-cigarettes are not safe,” Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Public Health Dept. Health Officer, said.
This week the State Health Department contacted hospitals asking them to report any patients with lung issues who also use e-cigarettes. Dr. Wilson says symptoms may include difficulty breathing, chest pains and nausea or fatigue.
“It can look like somebody is coming down with a case of pneumonia or something like that. Anybody who has those symptoms, especially difficulty breathing or cough, we ask that they think about that,” Wilson said.
Alabama has already taken steps to cut advertising e-cigarettes to teenagers. Dr. Wilson would like to see the state take another step to restrict the product.
“I think we need to raise the purchase age to at least 21 so that it’s little bit further and out of the reach of young people,” Wilson said.
Wilson said it’s best to use various stop smoking programs that are offered by the health department rather than vaping or e-cigarettes as a way to quit.