Nearly a week after an Illinois resident died following hospitalization for a severe respiratory illness linked to vaping, health officials are reporting an additional five cases in the state.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have been 27 confirmed hospitalizations for similar illnesses in Illinois since May. Eight more reports are under investigation, according to the agency.
Reported symptoms have included cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting, which worsens over a period of days or weeks before hospital admission.
Cases have been reported in Chicago and the counties of Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair, Tazewell, Vermillion, Will, Winnebago and Woodford. Those affected are between the ages of 17-38, with a median age of 22, according to IDPH.
A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived in Illinois last week to assist IDPH in its investigation. Officials are working to identify the names and types of vaping products linked to the hospitalizations, as well as where they were obtained.
State health officials are also working with the Food and Drug Administration and health departments in other states, including Wisconsin, where the Milwaukee Health Department on Thursday urged residents to stop using all e-cigarette products immediately.
Many patients, including those in Illinois, have told health care personnel they had recently used products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to the CDC. No specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to the illnesses, according to health officials. While the cases appear similar, it’s not clear if they have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar symptoms, according to IDPH.
The American Vaping Association claims black market THC products are to blame for the reported illnesses, not nicotine vaping products.
Officials advise anyone who is experiencing any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after vaping to seek immediate medical attention, even if symptoms arise weeks later. Health care providers caring for patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness should ask about a person’s history of vaping.