The State of Illinois has the first death in the United States related to vaping. The Illinois Department of Public Health learned of the death of an individual who had recently vaped and was hospitalized with severe respiratory illness. The number of cases of people reported to IDPH who have used e-cigarettes or vaped and have been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms has doubled in the past week. A total of 22 people, ranging in age from 17-38 years, have experienced respiratory illness after using e-cigarettes or vaping. IDPH is working with local health departments to investigate another 12 individuals.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says her department is making a thorough investigation of the origins of these problems with vaping products. “We’re doing a lot of interviews. We’re trying to get as much information that we can to identify which product or compound are being used that are resulting in these really severe events – shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing. It can be associated with fatigue, even diarrhea and vomiting in some people.” Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital.
Cases have been reported in Chicago and Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair, and Will counties. In order to protect the identity of the affected individuals, additional information is not being provided. The investigation is ongoing and more information will be shared as it is available.
People who experience any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after using e-cigarettes or vaping in the weeks or months prior to these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Health care providers caring for patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness should ask about a history of vaping or e-cigarette use. More information can be found on IDPH’s website.