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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is investigating recent reports of severe lung disease after vaping, it said Aug. 16. Three patients have been hospitalized in North Carolina since late July, and similar cases have been reported from other states, including Wisconsin, Illinois, California and Minnesota. No deaths have been reported.

Although no infectious causes have been identified in this investigation, symptoms are similar to pneumonia caused by bacterial or viral infections. The severity of the disease has varied among patients, with some requiring treatment in the intensive care unit and assistance to breathe.

The causes of these illnesses are unknown, but all patients reported using e-cigarettes or vaping devices in the weeks before their illness began. NCDHHS is coordinating with North Carolina Poison Control, other partner agencies in North Carolina, other states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate.

“We encourage all North Carolinians to avoid vaping products and e-cigarettes”, said State Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Tilson, M.D. “Although the causes of the recently reported cases are still under investigation, this is a reminder of the potentially severe health consequences of vaping.”

No specific brand name or source has been identified as the cause of illness at this time. Vaping products and e-cigarettes contain harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled into the lungs. The vape products reported include nicotine, marijuana, THC or a combination of these substances.

Symptoms reported from patients include shortness of breath, fever, cough and nausea or vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their doctor or seek medical care and report any use of vaping devices within the past three months.

Nicotine found in e-liquids is highly addictive. People can learn more about e-cigarettes and vaping products at www.tobaccopreventionandcontrol.ncdhhs.gov/ecigs. For help quitting, call I-800-QuitNow (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.quitlinenc.com.

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