On Aug. 23, the enigmatic e-cigarette illness claimed its first victim in Illinois. A resident of the state had recently used an e-cigarette and was hospitalized with severe lung illness where they then died. This death is believed to be linked to an outbreak of e-cigarette illness cases across the nation.
Difficulty Defining The E-Cigarette Illness
The e-cigarette illness has affected at 193 individuals, with cases in 22 states as reported by The Washington Post. The majority of incidences are in teens and young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recently, however, the e-cigarette illness has begun to affect many more individuals. In the past week, Illinois officials state that the number of vaping-related respiratory hospitalizations has doubled. Officials have stated that they have 22 confirmed incidents of vaping-related respiratory illness and another dozen suspected cases.
The victims range in age from 17 to 38 and have all experienced respiratory illness using e-cigarettes. The symptoms of the e-cigarette illness begin mildly, but steadily escalate until hospitalization is required. Symptoms include
- Shortness of breath
The typical escalation period ranges from a few days to a couple of weeks but the symptoms of the e-cigarette illness will continue to escalate until emergency treatment becomes necessary.
One of the difficulties in treating or preventing cases of e-cigarette illness comes from the evasive nature of the illness. CDC and state officials cannot currently identify if the illness is caused by the e-cigarettes themselves, specific ingredients or contaminants, or some tertiary source. Although all of the patients affected by the e-cigarette illness present with similar symptoms and all use e-cigarettes, patients have described inhaling many different products including nicotine, marijuana-based products and “home brews” of homemade substances.
Brian King, deputy director for research translation at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, told reporters that although these cases seem to arise from nowhere, the CDC was likely receiving isolated reports “but we weren’t necessarily capturing them.” King mentioned that e-cigarette aerosol components can contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to lung tissue such as ultrafine particles and flavorings like diacetyl that have links to respiratory illnesses.
Mitch Zeller, head of the Center for Tobacco Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), noted that the agency is working to acquire identifying information including identifying
- The products used
- Where the products were purchased
- How the e-cigarette and fluids were used
- Whether other compounds were added to the fluid
According to Zeller, “information needs to be strung together for every single one of these cases to see if any patterns emerge.” In the meantime, the FDA, CDC, and health officials are advising any individuals who experience difficulty breathing or chest pain after using e-cigarettes to seek immediate medical attention.
Additionally, health-care providers caring for patients with sudden or unexpected respiratory illness should ask about whether the patient has a history of e-cigarette use. Officials are also asking anyone experiencing these types of symptoms after vaping to file a report with the FDA’s Safety Reporting Portal.
For more information about the risks of e-cigarette illness and other complications of e-cigarette use, visit Parker Waichman’s e-cigarette death lawsuit page.
How E-Cigarette Illness Will be Addressed
With the attention placed on the emergence of this e-cigarette illness, there will be new efforts made to prevent more deaths from e-cigarette use. In the meantime, however, if you or a loved one had suffered respiratory illness or wrongful death as a result of e-cigarette use, you will need representation to earn you the compensation you deserve. That representation is Parker Waichman LLP.
At Parker Waichman LLP, experienced trial attorneys are prepared to pursue your case to its furthest conclusion in order to earn you the compensation that you deserve. Don’t wait, contact Parker Waichman today for a free consultation.
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