DALLAS - There are now 14 cases of severe lung illness in Dallas County related to e-cigarettes. Five of those cases were reported just Monday morning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the cause of the outbreak and has urged people to stop vaping until researchers can identify the specific source.
Many of the patients are teenagers. In Dallas County, the average age is 19.
The Dallas County numbers come out as the director of the CDC addresses the issue on Twitter saying federal and state agencies are trying to figure out what exactly is making people sick.
Of the 14 Dallas County cases reported, seven of the patients have required respiratory life support. That puts the total number of cases across the U.S. at about 450.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control tweeted the cases span 33 states and the Virgin Islands with five reported deaths. So far, The CDC says investigators have not identified one specific ingredient causing severe lung disease although they are starting to see some commonalities.
“Many of the persons have been associated with using THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but not all of them,” said Dr. Philip Huang, Director of the Dallas County Health Department. “But that’s why I still think there’s further investigation to see exactly what’s going on with this.”
“We know that the aerosol in the e-cigarettes or vaping devices contain things that you aren’t supposed to inhale, like tin and lead and chromium and heavy metals, which can be very toxic to the lungs,” said Dr. Devika Rao with Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
Dr. Rao is a pulmonologist with Children’s Medical Center Dallas. She says she is screening a lot more of her patients for a history of e-cigarette use than ever before. She also says even the flavorings thought to be safe for oral ingestion have not been proven safe for inhalation.
Just last month, 17-year-old Tryston Zohfeld of Fort Worth shared his near-death experience and extensive hospital stay. He says it was the result of three years of vaping.