Health Alert: OHA warns of multi-state outbreak of pulmonary injuries associated with vaping

August 28, 2019

Originally issued Aug. 21

The Oregon Health Authority issued a warning about a multi-state outbreak of severe pulmonary injuries associated with vaping and to ask for your help in identifying cases of this condition.

"We know of no cases in Oregon. However, since July 2019, 94 cases have been reported in 14 states," wrote Dr. Tom Jeanne, deputy health officer and state epidemiologist with the Oregon Public Health Division.

Patients have presented with respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough, and pleuritic chest pain. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, nausea, and diarrhea. All confirmed cases have required hospitalization, and some have required mechanical ventilation. Most illnesses have been among adolescents and young adults, although some have been reported in older adults. The condition is not thought to represent an infection. Symptoms have not responded to antibiotics, whereas in many cases symptoms have improved with corticosteroids.

All cases have reported vaping, and most have reported vaping cannabis products, including THC and CBD oils.

Clinicians who see cases of severe pulmonary illness without an alternate explanation should ask about vaping of nicotine or any other substance in the 90 days before illness onset. Report immediately to Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division any case of illness meeting all of the following criteria:

  • Hospitalized patient
  • History of vaping of any substance in the preceding 90 days
  • Radiologic finding of pulmonary infiltrates (opacities on chest x-ray or ground-glass appearance on chest CT)

Call 971-673-1111 (option 3) to report cases.

Healthcare providers should also ask patients about any retained vaping device(s) or product(s) in order to ascertain availability for possible testing.