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Alberta reports first severe vaping related lung illness to Public Health Agency

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 3.17.42 PMAlberta has reported its first case of a severe vaping-related lung illness after treating a patient in hospital who was having difficulty breathing.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said officials confirmed the case earlier this week.

“In this particular case, the person had coughing, shortness of breath and needed to be admitted to hospital for treatment. They are now recovering at home,” she said Thursday.

“But we know that vaping can cause these severe lung illness types of disease that we’ve seen reported in the U.S.”

As of Dec. 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States reported 2,561 e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injuries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Fifty-five deaths have been confirmed in 27 states and D.C.

The Public Health Agency of Canada had asked provincial health officials to report any probable and confirmed cases as part of a national investigation into the illnesses.

The agency’s website shows there were 14 previous cases across the country from May until November 2019 – three in British Columbia, two in New Brunswick, four in Ontario and five in Quebec.

Hinshaw said the Alberta case involves an adult, but declined to provide any additional information about the age or gender of the person for privacy reasons.

“They weren’t feeling well and they sought medical care and then they received the care that they needed, which is exactly what they should do.”

Hinshaw said the investigation into the type of vaping product is ongoing.

“The information we have is that the product was nicotine containing and it was purchased commercially,” she said.

Public health officials again warned that vaping is not without risk and its long-term health impacts are not known.

“Any time someone inhales a compound in their lungs … there is potential that is damaging the lungs,” said Hinshaw. “It’s just a reminder that people need to be aware of that when they are making choices.”

The Alberta government said it has launched a review of its tobacco and smoking reduction act. Officials are expected to provide a final report to the health minister in the coming weeks.

“Based on its findings, we expect to table new vaping-related legislation this spring,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday on Twitter.


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More clues point to chemical compound in vaping illnesses

Health officials said Nov. 26th they have more evidence that a certain chemical compound is a culprit in a national outbreak of vaping illnesses.

Researchers analyzed black market vaping cartridges seized in Minnesota during the outbreak this year, and vaping liquid seized in that state last year. The newer cartridges contained the compound vitamin E acetate, but none of the older samples did.

They also looked at vaping cartridges collected from a dozen patients. Vitamin E acetate was commonly found in those, too.

The study was small, but it echoes other work that found the compound in the damaged lungs of 29 patients across the country.

“The findings further support a potential role for vitamin E acetate in causing lung injury associated with vaping products,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, a Minnesota health official.

Nearly 2,300 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teens and young adults, according to a recent tally by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 47 people have died.

Most who got sick said they had vaped liquids that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana. Vitamin E acetate has recently been used as a thickener in illicit vaping products that contain THC, officials say.


New case of vaping related illness in Quebec brings national total to 8 

Quebec’s Health Department is confirming the province’s third case of severe lung illness related to vaping.

Department spokeswoman Noemie Vanheuverzwijn said November 15 the latest case was reported in Quebec’s Outaouais region, adding that Health Canada has been notified.

She says the person who fell ill consumed a legal nicotine vaping product, as did the two other Quebecers, both from Montreal, who developed severe lung illness related to vaping.

As of Nov. 12, federal health authorities reported an additional five probable cases of severe lung illness related to vaping in the country — two in New Brunswick and three in British Columbia.

A spokesman for Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann says the minister is following the situation closely and is considering tightening the rules around vaping products.

McCann’s office says authorities are working on a protocol for reporting cases of pulmonary disease related to vaping.