8 Wisconsin teens hospitalized with severe lung damage due to vaping, doctors suspect

Eight teens were hospitalized in July with seriously damaged lungs in Wisconsin, the...

Posted: Jul 28, 2019 7:13 AM

Eight teens were hospitalized in July with seriously damaged lungs in Wisconsin, the state Department of Health Services reported Thursday.

"We suspect that these injuries were caused by vaping," said Dr. Michael Gutzeit, chief medical officer at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where the teens were admitted, at a press conference.

Their symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue, worsened over days or weeks before the patients arrived at Children's Hospital. Some reported fever, anorexia, chest pain, nausea and diarrhea. Scans and X-rays showed inflammation or swelling throughout both lungs, said Gutzeit.

All eight patients, who live in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Winnebago counties, tested negative for infectious diseases and reported vaping in the weeks and months before their hospital admission.

"The severity of health condition has varied, with some patients needing assistance in order to breathe," said Gutzeit. He added that the teens have shown improvement after treatment, but any long-term effects are not yet known. With "an exponential increase in the number of teens vaping," Gutzeit is concerned that more teens will develop similar lung damage that requires hospital treatment.

In Wisconsin, 11% of middle schoolers have tried electronic tobacco products, while 4% of middle schoolers are current users, according to the health department. By the time they reach high school, 32% have tried e-cigarettes and 20% consider themselves current users.

Vaping is relatively new, since e-cigs were introduced in the US less than 15 years ago. So, scientists do not understand all the ways vaping can harm health.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the same highly addictive chemical compound found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Nicotine can damage the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

Also, there have been cases of the devices exploding and injuring users.

Add to that, the cloud is not harmless "water vapor," as many teens believe. The vapor cloud results from burning e-liquids, which can cause vomiting, confusion, heart rhythm problems, coma and even death if ingested, Wisconsin's health department says. And scientists who have analyzed e-liquids say that sometimes these fluids contain heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Teens can buy e-liquids that taste like gummy bears, cotton candy, peanut butter cups and cookies 'n cream, to name a few. As they experiment, some kids find their way to the stronger stuff: More than 80% of teens who have ever used tobacco start with a flavored product, one study shared by the Wisconsin health department found.

Wisconsin is not alone in this problem. Nationwide, vaping among US middle and high school students increased 900% between 2011 and 2015, according to a report from the US Surgeon General. Though a small decline in popularity followed 2015, current use of e-cigs has increased 78% among high school students during the past year alone, the same report found. Overall, more than 3.6 million teens across the country, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, currently use e-cigs.

"It's very important for teens and parents to understand more about vaping," said Gutzeit. "Talk to each other. Understand the risks of vaping."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 41571

Reported Deaths: 1537
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13328790
Ramsey5169232
Dakota265596
Stearns249619
Anoka2393111
Nobles16846
Olmsted125920
Washington125541
Mower9822
Rice8798
Scott8584
Clay61238
Kandiyohi5901
Blue Earth5632
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Carver4691
Todd4022
Sherburne3625
Lyon3332
Freeborn3120
Watonwan2670
Steele2451
Benton2363
St. Louis22316
Nicollet20312
Martin1755
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Winona14115
Goodhue1408
Le Sueur1251
Crow Wing11312
Pine1120
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Chisago1071
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Carlton900
Polk883
Unassigned8838
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Lincoln170
Wadena170
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Marshall130
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Clearwater120
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Hubbard100
Mahnomen101
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle50
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Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 34564

Reported Deaths: 747
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7332184
Woodbury332944
Black Hawk249259
Buena Vista173711
Johnson14268
Dallas138531
Linn138183
Marshall109219
Scott103110
Dubuque94023
Story8575
Pottawattamie82112
Wapello71431
Muscatine68745
Crawford6803
Sioux5010
Tama48329
Wright3971
Louisa36513
Webster3655
Plymouth3465
Jasper34417
Warren3191
Dickinson2993
Cerro Gordo2841
Washington2519
Hamilton2011
Boone1681
Clay1491
Clarke1433
Allamakee1384
Clinton1321
Shelby1200
Mahaska11917
Carroll1131
Poweshiek1128
Bremer1107
Pocahontas1071
Franklin1040
Des Moines1002
Cedar951
Emmet950
Henry933
Hardin900
Cherokee831
Floyd812
Taylor810
Marion800
Monona780
Benton751
Guthrie754
Jones710
Butler682
Osceola680
Sac680
Buchanan631
Calhoun632
Iowa631
Jefferson620
Hancock601
Harrison600
Humboldt601
Fayette570
Jackson570
Lyon570
Delaware561
Madison552
Lee542
Monroe527
Palo Alto510
Clayton503
Grundy470
Mills470
Winneshiek460
Mitchell440
Davis421
Kossuth410
Union380
Howard370
Lucas354
Unassigned350
Winnebago340
Greene300
Chickasaw290
Cass280
Ida230
Keokuk231
Worth220
Appanoose213
Page210
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Audubon181
Adair170
Ringgold161
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