Thursday April 2, 2020

US: CDC Identifies 193 Potential Cases of Severe Lung Illness Tied to Vaping in 22 States

E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes, which kill up to half of all lifetime users

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US, CDC, Vaping
FILE - A high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass., April 11, 2018. VOA

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that it had identified 193 potential cases of severe lung illness tied to vaping in 22 states as of Aug. 22, including one adult in Illinois who died after being hospitalized.

The CDC has been investigating a “cluster” of lung illnesses that it believes may be linked to e-cigarette use, although it has not yet been able to establish whether they were in fact caused by vaping.

E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes, which kill up to half of all lifetime users, according to the World Health Organization. But the long-term health effects of vaping are largely unknown.

No link to specific product

US, CDC, Vaping
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that it had identified 193 potential cases of severe lung illness tied to vaping in 22 states as of Aug. 22, including one adult. Pixabay

In a briefing with reporters, representatives from health agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific product and that some patients had reporting vaping with cannabis liquids.

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said the agency was analyzing product samples from states to identify any potentially harmful elements that may be triggering the illnesses.

He said health agencies were trying to learn which specific vaping products were used and whether they were being used as intended or mixed with other substances.

“Those kinds of facts need to be strung together for every single one of these cases, so that we can see if any other kinds of patterns have emerged,” Zeller said.

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The number of potential cases has more than doubled over the past week. On Aug. 17, the CDC said it was investigating 94 potential lung illnesses in 14 states.

Brian King, deputy director of research translation at the CDC’s smoking and health division, said it was possible there might have been earlier cases that health agencies had not identified.

Possible health implications

“The bottom line is that there’s a variety of things in e-cigarette aerosols that could have implications for lung health,” said King, adding that none of those compounds had been directly linked to the recent hospitalizations.

US, CDC, Vaping
The CDC has been investigating a “cluster” of lung illnesses that it believes may be linked to e-cigarette use, although it has not yet been able to establish whether they were in fact caused. Pixabay

In a statement Thursday, Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said he was “confident” the illnesses were being caused by devices containing cannabis or other synthetic drugs, not nicotine.

Patients have reported difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and sometimes chest pain before being hospitalized. Some have shown symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue.

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“The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement earlier. (VOA)

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Microsoft Told its Employees in US to Work From Home Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Microsoft tells US employees to work from home

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Microsoft
Microsoft has allowed employees in Seattle and San Francisco to work from home till March 25 as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread in the US. Pixabay Microsoft has allowed employees in Seattle and San Francisco to work from home till March 25 as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread in the US. Pixabay

Microsoft has allowed employees in Seattle and San Francisco to work from home till March 25 as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread in the US. This is the latest news.

The tech giant has also recommended that those who are feeling sick, have a compromised immune system, or have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 should work from home. The company employs nearly 54,000 people in the Seattle region.

“Consistent with King County guidance, we are recommending all employees who are in a job that can be done from home should do so through March 25th. Taking these measures will ensure your safety and also make the workplace safer for those that need to be onsite,” said Microsoft Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene in a statement on Wednesday.

There are currently more than 94,000 cases of COVID-19 globally, with 128 confirmed in the US. King County in Washington State has reported 21 cases and eight deaths.

Microsoft
Microsoft has already cancelled all non-essential business travel in regions with active COVID-19. Pixabay

Amazon has also confirmed that an employee at its Seattle headquarters has been tested positive for COVID-19. “If in your role it is essential to be in the office or other work environments (data centre, retail, etc.), plan to continue to go to your location. We will continue to implement the CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitising the locations,” said DelBene.

The exceptions to this new guidance are the following groups who are being advised by health authorities to avoid interaction in large groups or public settings: If you are over 60, If you have an underlying health condition (heart disease, diabetes, etc.), if your immune system is compromised or if you are pregnant.

“In these cases, you should work with your manager to determine leave options or other accommodations available to you. If you are a caregiver of someone that is immune system compromised, please contact your health provider for input,” said Microsoft.

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“Limit prolonged interactions and try to stay more than six feet (1.8 meters) away from others. Keep in-person meetings as short as possible. Most importantly do not come to work if you are sick. This will be clearly posted on all building entrances,” said the company.

The company has already cancelled all non-essential business travel in regions with active COVID-19. Twitter has also told its 5,000-strong workforce to work from home. (IANS)