DENVER (CBS4) - New cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported in Colorado in the past week -- bringing the total to nine diagnosed since August. Seven of the cases were severe enough to require hospitalization, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The Centers For Disease Control report more than 800 cases across the country of people with lung injury or illness tied to vaping.
In Colorado, there have been two cases reported in Boulder County, one in Arapahoe County, four in Denver County, one in Jefferson County and one in Weld County. Three patients said they only vaped nicotine, three said they only vaped marijuana, two said they consumed both and one didn't confirm the substance consumed.
The new report comes a day after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock signed a city ordinance raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21. That also applies to nicotine products like e-cigarettes. The mayor hopes the age increase helps Denver youth make healthier choices.
Children and teens vaping is considered an epidemic in Colorado. The state has the highest rates of youth usage in the nation.
"Colorado is one of multiple states investigating severe lung illness associated with vaping. In line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado is reporting confirmed and probable cases. A confirmed case is someone who recently used a vaping product, developed a breathing illness, and for whom testing did not show an infection. Other common causes of illness have been ruled out as the primary cause. A probable case is someone who recently used a vaping product, developed a breathing illness, and for whom specific testing has not been not performed to rule out infection OR for whom an infection was identified, but the clinical team believes this is not the only cause of the breathing illness," health department officials stated.
Nationwide, the number of people killed from vaping-related illnesses has grown to 17.
Doctors aren't quite sure yet what exactly is making people sick but heating the oil-based "vape juice" has led to respiratory problems in patients, some of whom are teens.
"These life threatening illnesses as you have heard can look like infection. Kids can start coughing. They can feel bad. They can have chest pain. Some individuals have coughed up blood, though that's not that common," said Dr. Robin Deterding with Children's Hospital Colorado.
Health experts are warning parents and young people that if they vape they are putting their health at risk.
"It's a lifetime of impact if you begin inhaling these substances early," said Dr. Deterding. "Some (people) go to the emergency room and the most important thing we are telling people is we have to have the vaping history."
Now that doctors have discovered that vaping is causing respiratory illnesses, they are going to go back through their past cases and see if any patients they have treated may have been sickened by vaping.
Deterding thinks they will likely find more cases, "Though the clusters are new, I think we are going to learn that different variations and degrees of these conditions have been present before."
Patients doctors have seen vape both nicotine and cannabis products. If you or your child vape and you have respiratory illness you should immediately see a doctor.
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