Vaping illnesses have surfaced in Florida

Vaping illnesses have surfaced in Florida

VAPI. It isn’t the latest internet slang. It’s an acronym for what health officials are calling “vaping associated pulmonary injury.”

It has potentially affected 450 people in 33 states, including Florida, and caused five deaths as of Friday, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida told The News Service of Florida on Monday that state health officials have “received several potential reports of illness” and that the Department of Health and the Florida Poison Information Center Network are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on investigating a multistate outbreak of severe pulmonary

disease.

The Department of Health declined to give the number of reported cases or disclose where the residents live.

While manufacturing companies have said the devices and products are aimed at adults, data show that large numbers of youths are vaping. The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida, which is part of the Department of Health, reported that in 2018, about 25 percent of Florida high school students reported they used vaping devices. That’s a 58 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Florida’s experience is mirrored in other parts of the nation. A 2016 U.S Surgeon General report showed that e-cigarette use among high school students grew 900 percent between 2011 and 2015.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigation has not uncovered evidence that vaping-related illnesses are infectious. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, feve, and weight loss.

Thomas Berlin, director of pulmonology respiratory care at AdventHealth in Orlando and president of the Florida Society of Respiratory Care, told the News Service that the hospital in downtown Orlando has treated one patient who came to the facility with such a pulmonary illness.

The patient, Berlin said, was “critically ill,” not able to inhale enough oxygen and required the assistance of a breathing machine. Though he was aware of one patient who’s been treated, Berlin pointed to the national data and said the issue is a widespread problem.

American Medical Association President Patrice Harris issued a statement saying the “illnesses currently sweeping across the country reaffirm our belief that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping is an urgent public health epidemic that must be addressed.”

Meanwhile, the FDA has sent a warning letter to Juul, the largest distributors of electronic cigarettes in the United States, accusing it of illegally touting nicotine pads used in e-cigarettes as less harmful than cigarettes.

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