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Michigan investigating link between respiratory illnesses linked to e-cigarette use

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Six patients have in the past two months have developed respiratory illnesses after vaping.

State health officials are launching an investigation into vaping.  They are looking for a possible link to a serious respiratory illnesses.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) launched its investigation after recording six cases of respiratory illnesses associated with vaping over a two month period. And they say there are probably more.

The patients range in age from 19 to 39. 

“One of the things that’s been striking about this is the younger age range that’s impacted by this,” says Sarah Lyon-Callo, a state epidemiologist. “[19] to 39 year olds are not usually found to be intubated due to other kinds of lung conditions.”

Lyon-Callo says MDHHS is treating this outbreak as an “emergency.”

Nationwide, more than 200 cases of severe respiratory disease associated with e-cigarette use have been reported in 23 states, including one fatality.

A specific brand of device or e-liquid that may be causing these illnesses has not been identified.  There does not appear to be an infectious cause of the illnesses.

State health officials say e-cigarette users should immediately seek medical attention if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, fever, or nausea and vomiting.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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