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Pulmonary Disease Linked to Vaping

As of August 21, 153 cases of severe respiratory disease associated with vaping had been reported to the CDC mostly in adolescents and teens (1). Cases have been reported in 16 states including California and New Mexico. No specific cause has been identified although the available evidence does not suggest and infectious source. Many of the cases appear similar with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing products often mixed with the vaping solution (2). Patients’ respiratory symptoms at presentation included cough, shortness of breath and fatigue that worsened over several days or weeks before hospital admission. Some patients also reported fever, chest pain, weight loss, nausea or diarrhea.  Chest radiographs have been reported to show bilateral opacities and CT chest scans have demonstrated diffuse ground-opacities, often with sub-pleural sparing. In some cases, patients experienced respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation but subsequently improved with treatment with corticosteroids.

The Arizona Department of Health issued a warning to the public yesterday. If a case is suspected, the Arizona Poison and Drug Information System should be contacted at 800-222-1222.

Richard A. Robbins, MD

Editor, SWJPCC


  1. CDC. CDC, FDA, states continue to investigate severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes. August 21, 2019. Available at: (accessed 8/22/19).
  2. CDC. CDC urges clinicians to report possible cases of unexplained vaping-associated pulmonary illness to their state/local health department. August 14, 2019. Available at: (accessed 8/22/19).

Cite as: Robbins RA. Pulmonary disease linked to vaping. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2019;19(2):84. doi: PDF 

Reader Comments (1)

The first death has been reported after vaping. An individual who had recently vaped and was hospitalized with severe respiratory illness in Illinois has died according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

August 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRick Robbins

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