Sunday December 15, 2019

U.S. Health Officials Urges People to Stop Vaping

Officials have identified about 450 possible cases, including as many as five deaths, in 33 states

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US, Health, Vaping
FILE - A man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine, Aug. 28, 2019. VOA

U.S. health officials on Friday again urged people to stop vaping until they figure out why some are coming down with serious breathing illnesses.

Officials have identified about 450 possible cases, including as many as five deaths, in 33 states. The count includes newly reported deaths in California, Indiana and Minnesota.

No single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses, officials said. Many of the sickened — but not all — were people who said they had been vaping THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its high. Many are teens.

Health officials have only been counting certain lung illnesses in which the person had vaped within three months. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and vomiting.

US, Health, Vaping
FILE – A woman takes a puff from a cannabis vape pen in Los Angeles, Dec. 22, 2018. VOA

The illnesses have all surfaced this year, and the number has been growing quickly in the last month as more states have begun investigations. A week ago, U.S. officials pegged the number at 215 possible cases in 25 states.

It’s unclear whether such illnesses were happening before this year.

“We’re all wondering if this is new or just newly recognized,” Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters Friday.

An Illinois health official, Dr. Jennifer Layden, said officials there don’t know when such illnesses first began, but she said there has been a marked increase since spring.

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Deaths

Deaths previously were reported in Illinois and Oregon.

Indiana officials said the person who died there was an adult, but they didn’t say when it happened or release other details. Health officials in Los Angeles said they were investigating a vaping death as well. And Minnesota health officials said that state’s first known vaping-related death was a person over 65 years with a history of lung problems who had vaped illicit THC products and died in August.

Recent attention has been focused on devices, liquids, refill pods and cartridges that are not sold in stores.

US, Health, Vaping
U.S. health officials on Friday again urged people to stop vaping until they figure out why some are coming down with serious breathing illnesses. Pixabay

New York state has focused its investigation on an ingredient called Vitamin E acetate, which has been used to thicken marijuana vape juice but is considered dangerous if heated and inhaled. State investigators have found the substance in 13 cartridges collected from eight patients. In several cases, the ingredient made up more than half of the liquid in the cartridge.

CDC officials said they are looking at several ingredients, including Vitamin E acetate. But Meaney-Delman added that no single factor has been seen in every case.

Vaping nicotine

Also Friday, the New England Journal of Medicine released a series of articles that give medical details about cases reported in Illinois, Wisconsin and Utah.

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An article on 53 illnesses in Illinois and Wisconsin noted that nearly one-fifth of the cases were people who said they vaped nicotine and not anything that contained THC or CBD oil.

For that reason, doctors and health officials are continuing to suggest people stay away from all vaping products until the investigation establishes exactly what’s at the root of the illnesses.

Meaney-Delman said avoiding vaping is “the primary means of preventing this severe lung disease.”

It’s not yet clear what impact the recent illnesses are having on vaping rates, but some health officials are hoping more Americans will become wary.

There’s been a split among public health experts about the value of vaping nicotine. Some argue e-cigarettes are not as lethal as conventional cigarettes and can be a valuable aide to smokers trying to kick the habit.

But others say studies have not established that adult smokers who try vaping end up quitting smoking long term. And they fear that kids who might never have picked up cigarettes are taking up vaping.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials “has long been cautious about endorsing e-cigarettes even before the recent spate of illnesses, because little scientific evidence exists to show that e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices are effective cessation devices,” spokeswoman Adriane Casalotti said in a statement.

The states reporting vaping-related lung illnesses to the CDC are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. (VOA)

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Kids in LMICs Receive Excessive Amount of Antibiotic Prescriptions

Kids in low income countries prescribed excess antibiotics

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Antibiotic Prescriptions
Children who receive excessive antibiotic prescriptions may lose the ability to fight pathogens. Pixabay

Kids in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are receiving an excessive amount of antibiotic prescriptions that could harm the children’s ability to fight pathogens as well as increase antibiotic resistance worldwide, warns a new study.

Children in these countries received 25 antibiotic prescriptions through age five – a “remarkable” estimate, given that two antibiotic prescriptions per year is considered excessive in many high-income settings, said the study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

“We knew children in LMICs are sick more often, and we knew antibiotic prescription rates are high in many countries. What we did not know was how these elements translate into actual antibiotic exposure – and the results are rather alarming,” said lead author of the study Gunther Fink from Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Basel, Switzerland.

Antimicrobial resistance is one of today’s biggest threats to global health and development, according to the World Health Organization.

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Children in LMICs received 25 antibiotic prescriptions through age. Pixabay

One factor contributing to this global health threat is the excessive use of antibiotics worldwide.

The research team from Swiss TPH and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US analysed data from 2007-2017 from health facilities and household surveys from eight countries: Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Results showed that antibiotics were administered in 81 per cent of cases for children with a respiratory illness, in 50 per cent for children with diarrhoea, and in 28 per cent for children with malaria.

The researchers found that the number of antibiotic prescriptions in early childhood varied from country to country.

While a child in Senegal received approximately one antibiotic prescription per year in the first five years of life, a child in Uganda was prescribed up to 12.

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In comparison, a prior study showed that children under five in Europe receive less than one antibiotic prescription per year on average.

“This number is still high given that the vast majority of infections in this age group are of viral origin,” said study co-author Valerie D’Acremont from Swiss TPH. (IANS)