KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is urging healthcare providers across the state to report cases of vaping-associated respiratory illness.
“There’s clearly an outbreak of quite serious lung disease associated with vaping – this is something that has not really ever been seen before,” said State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD.
The urgent request comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began investigating a cluster of severe respiratory disease in people using e-cigarettes.
That cluster number was at 150 cases across 16 states – those numbers jumping to nearly 180 cases spanning at least 20 states in the few hours between the TDH news release and WATE’s interview with Jones.
“And those numbers are continuing to go up fairly quickly,” Jones said. “But it doesn’t mean that the illnesses themselves all occurred in the same matter of hours … the numbers are going up fast but I think a lot of that is just because people are more aware and looking for it.”
While Tennessee is not a part of this cluster, Jones says it’s only a matter of time.
“I would very much expect us to have cases here in Tennessee because there’s nothing special about our population that would make us any less susceptible,” said Jones.
Symptoms to look out for include: coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue – growing worse for a period of days or weeks. Jones says most cases are among young adults.
“Some have been very severe, there are several that have ended up in intensive care and had to be on special kinds of breathing machines to make it through the illness,” Jones said.
The TDH does offer free and confidential assistance to Tennesseans who are trying to quit smoking or using electronic cigarettes.
The Tennessee Tobacco Quitline is just one of them, they can be reached at 1-800-Quit-Now or http://www.tnquitline.org/.