City officials in Milwaukee, Wisc., are sounding the alarm on e-cigarette smoking and urging residents to stop using vaping products, after at least 16 people were hospitalized with lung problems in the city.
“Severe pulmonary disease has been discovered among teens and adults who reported vaping,” a health alert released Wednesday stated.
All of the individuals were diagnosed with either severe chemical pneumonitis or chemical pneumonia, which is an inflammation of the lungs caused by aspiration or inhalation of irritants.
The patients reported using vape products or vaping marijuana oils, extracts or concentrates ― a practice known as “dabbing” ― in the weeks and months prior to hospitalization.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) said that even though the specifics of the products that are causing the health scare are unknown at this time, residents are “strongly encouraged” to stay away from any e-cigarettes that contain THC oil.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
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“We continue to learn more about the health effects associated with e-cigarettes,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Jeanette Kowalik said. “As the public health authority for the city, the MHD is committed to protecting the public from the dangers of secondhand exposure.”
Alderman Michael J. Murphy, the co-chair of the city-county heroin, opioid, cocaine task force, echoed Kowalik’s concerns.
“As someone who has worked diligently to eliminate access to tobacco and e-cigarettes among youth, I urge residents pay close attention to the poor health effects from using these products,” he said.
MHD urges people who have used vaping products and are experiencing symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, anorexia, chest pain, nausea or diarrhea to contact their primary care physician immediately.