Texas health officials are investigating suspected cases of pulmonary disease among people who have reported vaping, according to a health alert posted Friday.
“All suspect cases reported vaping with products including nicotine and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Evaluation for infectious diseases was negative in all patients,” the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) said in the alert. “DSHS is working with other states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better characterize case demographics, clinical characteristics, and exposures.”
Although suspected cases are still currently being investigated in Texas, physicians are asked to be on the lookout for other possible cases.
According to the CDC, between June 28 and Aug. 20, 149 possible cases of severe lung illnesses associated with e-cigarette use were reported in 15 states, including Texas. No deaths have been reported.
"CDC and states have not identified a cause, but all reported cases have e-cigarette product use or “vaping,” CDC said in a statement.
If you suspect vaping-related pulmonary disease in a patient, DSHS advises you to:
- Ask the patient about vaping history. If possible, inquire about the types of products used and methods of use.
- If vaping fluid commonly used by the patient is available, ask that it be set aside (not used) in case it is needed for testing.
- Be aware that some suspect cases have required high-level intensive care and respiratory support.
Suspected cases should be reported to DSHS at (512) 776-7268.
Vaping is increasingly becoming a public health concern, based in part on its rise in popularity among teens and adolescents.
In fact, about 3 million U.S. high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2018, a 78% increase from 2017, the CDC has reported. In Texas, nearly 19% of high school students are current e-cigarette users, according to a DSHS e-cigarette fact sheet.
Thanks to Texas Medical Association advocacy, lawmakers this year passed a law that raises the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 (except for military personnel). The law will go into effect Sept. 1.
If you’re looking for ways to talk effectively to teenagers about the dangers of vaping, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is offering a free online course entitled “Escape the Vape: Help Stop the E-Cigarette Epidemic Among Adolescents.”
And if you’re looking for more information and resources on tobacco and nicotine addiction in Texas, check out the TMA’s website.