First Kansas vaping-related lung disease death reported

Kansas health officials have confirmed the first death in the state associated with an outbreak of serious lung disease related to vaping or using e-cigarettes, according to a news release Tuesday from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The recent death was a Kansas resident over the age of 50.

According to Dr. Farah Ahmed, Kansas state epidemiologist, the patient had a history of underlying health issues and was hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly.

The national investigation has not identified any specific vaping or e-cigarette products linked to all cases, according to the state health department.

Many patients report using vaping or e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, the news release stated. Kansas does not have detailed information on what types of products were used by the deceased, according to officials.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of the person who died,” Gov. Laura Kelly said in the news release. “Health officials are working hard to determine a cause and share information to prevent additional injuries. As that work continues, I urge Kansans to be careful. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, and please follow the recommendations of public health officials.”

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas state health officer and secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said health officials nationwide continue to work aggressively to gather information and determine what has caused these lung injuries.

“It is time to stop vaping.” Norman said. “If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop. The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases continue to intensify. I’m extremely alarmed for the health and safety of Kansans who are using vaping products and urge them to stop until we can determine the cause of vaping related lung injuries and death.”

To date, Kansas has six reports associated with the outbreak. Three patients have been classified as confirmed or probable cases and three cases are still under investigation, officials stated.

State investigators determine if cases are confirmed or probable after examining the medical records of suspected cases and consulting with the clinical care team to exclude other possible cases. Further information about individual cases is not available because of patient confidentiality.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the addition of the Kansas report, is reporting six deaths and more than 450 possible cases of severe lung injury in 33 states and one jurisdiction. While investigations into these cases continue, CDC is recommending people avoid vaping or using e-cigarettes. Also, people with a history of vaping who are experiencing lung injury symptoms should seek medical care, a spokesman stated.

Nationally, symptoms among cases included shortness of breath, fever, cough, and vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms reported by some patients included headache, dizziness and chest pain. For individuals wanting more information on how to quit tobacco products, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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