Health Department Cautions Residents Against Vaping During Investigation of Severe Lung Illness Outbreak

News Release, St. Mary’s County Health Department

LEONARDTOWN, MD (September 17, 2019) – A multistate outbreak of severe lung illness and death associated with use of e-cigarette/vaping products (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) is currently under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners.

This investigation is ongoing and has not identified a single cause, but all reported cases have a history of using e-cigarette/vaping products. People who have become ill have reported using a range of products, including those with cannabis-derived components (THC or CBD), and nicotine.

While this investigation is ongoing, the St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) strongly advises against the use of these products. If you do use e-cigarette/vaping products and you experience symptoms like those reported in this outbreak, seek medical care promptly. 

Patients in this investigation have reported respiratory symptoms such as:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain 
  • pain when breathing
  • wheezing
  • coughing up blood

Other symptoms reported by many patients include fever, chills, nausea, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.

“Because the cause of this outbreak is unknown, the best way to keep yourself safe is to not use e-cigarettes or vapes,” said Angela Cochran, Director of Chronic Disease Prevention & Control at SMCHD. “We offer free help for anyone who wants to quit vaping or using other tobacco products.”

For more information on resources to help you quit, visit http://www.smchd.org/tobacco/ or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Regardless of the ongoing investigation, the CDC has made the following recommendations regarding e-cigarettes:

  • Youth and young adults should not use e-cigarette products.
  • Women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarette products.
  • Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products.
  • If you do use e-cigarette products, you should not buy these products off the street (for example, e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids).
  • You should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
  • Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your medical provider or local health department.

 The CDC and FDA encourage the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected health or product issues related to tobacco or e-cigarette products to the FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portal.


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