The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is stepping up its response to serious lung illnesses linked to vaping by activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said in a news release. “Activation of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center allows us to enhance operations and provide additional support to CDC staff working to protect our Nation from this serious health threat.”
In the past, the EOC has been activated for Zika virus, Ebola, hurricanes and foodborne disease outbreaks. It is staffed with experts around the clock, 365 days a year.
Its activation today comes in response to 380 confirmed or probable cases of serious lung illness in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands believed to be linked to vaping. There have been six deaths, which occurred in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon.
The patients, many of whom are adolescents and young adults, have complained of difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and/or chest pain. Some also experienced diarrhea, vomiting, fever and fatigue, according to the CDC. In many of the cases, patients had used e-cigarettes with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Clinicians should consider vaping-related illnesses in patients with lung disease, collect detailed information on the products patients were using and report suspected cases to their state health department. Detailed guidance from the CDC is available at https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00421.asp. For information about the collection of e-cigarette products for possible testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), email FDAVapingSampleInquiries@fda.hhs.gov.
The CDC also encourages the public to report any unexpected tobacco or e-cigarette-related health or product issues to the FDA’s online Safety Reporting Portal, http://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov.