More deaths reported among rising number of lung disease cases that could be due to vaping

US health officials announced Friday that they are now aware of at least 450 possible cases of severe lung disease that could be caused by vaping.

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - Prisma Health–Upstate said Tuesday it doctors have notified South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) of five probable cases of severe pulmonary disease related to e-cigarette use or vaping.

DHEC on Monday said there have been 2 confirmed cases in the state so far.

The hospital system said the CDC is investigating an outbreak of pulmonary illnesses across the country which are believed to be connected to vaping.

According to a news release from Prisma, signs of the pulmonary disease include breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain. Some patients have reported mild to moderate gastrointestinal problems as well, including vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. Symptoms may develop over the course of three to four days and may initially feel flu-like in nature. Some cases are mild and require only a steroid treatment, but many reported cases have been severe and even life-threatening, even requiring the use of a ventilator if patients lose the ability to breathe on their own.

“The onset of severe pulmonary disease has not yet been linked to any one particular e-cigarette device or brand,” Armin Meyer, MD, pulmonologist at Prisma Health–Upstate, said in a news release. “Although the devices are marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes, little is known about the makeup of the chemicals contained in the devices, making it difficult to predict the harmful effects of ingesting this unknown substance.”

“We know the dangers of smoking and the serious long-term impacts it can have on your health, because we’ve had decades to study its effects,” Meyer added. “Vaping is a relatively new activity, but people are vaping at higher rates while knowing considerably less about the potentially serious side effects. The surest way to prevent unknown long-term health damage from these products is to avoid using them altogether.”

The hospital system says anyone who experiences symptoms of pulmonary disease and has been recently using e-cigarettes or vaping should consult a doctor immediately

RELATED - DHEC: 2 cases of severe pulmonary disease from vaping reported in SC, 1 from Upstate

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