TOMS RIVER – As the death toll continues to rise, Ocean County Health Department officials are warning residents about the dangers associated with vaping products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 530 cases of severe respiratory disease and 7 deaths have been reported from 38 states as of September 17, 2019, all a result of the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products.
While New Jersey has not seen any deaths, nine individuals have been admitted to New Jersey hospitals, and close to two dozen more cases being investigated, as a result of vaping.
“This latest health concern associated to e-cigarette use demands an urgent response and that’s why the Ocean County Health Department is expanding its campaign to educate and spread awareness of these serious risks. We will continue to work closely with our state and local partners to stay at the forefront of this developing epidemic and keep our residents informed,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.
It is still unknown which ingredient or device may be causing lung problems in these reported cases, making it more difficult to identify the exact cause of the injuries. What we do know is that the common denominator is that the majority of patients have reported using vaping products containing either THC or nicotine, or a combination of both.
Another concern is that some people are purchasing these devices and products off the street or adding substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. Until investigators uncover what’s making people sick, the OCHD is recommending that everyone stop using all e-cigarette or vaping products.
“The Ocean County Health Department is strongly urging everyone, but especially teens, young adults and women who are pregnant to refrain from using e-cigarette products,” said Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “We are really concerned for our teens. From 2017 to 2018 there was a 78 percent increase among high school students using e-cigarette products and a 48 percent jump by middle school students. That’s a large number of young people who need to be made aware of these serious health risks from vaping – it really could save their life.”
Many of the patients complained of pain in the lungs, cough or a shortness of breath. Some patients have gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and vomiting. Anyone that has recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and has any of these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.
“Don’t wait if you think you may be demonstrating any of these symptoms. This is a serious health issue that needs medical attention,” Regenye added. “And even if you’re not sick, it’s time to make a serious effort to stop using e-cigarettes.
For more information about e-cigarette and vaping health risks, or to schedule a vaping education program, visit the Ocean County Health Department website at ochd.org. Up-to-date information can be found at cdc.gov/lunginjury.