SPRINGFIELD — A person who had recently vaped and was hospitalized with severe respiratory illness has died, the Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday.
The agency also said that the number of reported cases of people who had used e-cigarettes or vaped and had been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms had doubled in the previous week. A total of 22 people, ranging in age from 17 to 38 years, have experienced respiratory illness after using e-cigarettes or vaping.
The state health department is working with local health departments to investigate 12 other cases, as well. Affected individuals have experienced respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. Some also have experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before admission to a hospital.
Cases have been reported in Chicago and Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair and Will counties.
“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,” said the state health department’s director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help us investigate these cases, and they arrived in Illinois on Tuesday (Aug. 20).”
The Illinois Department of Public Health is also working with local health departments, other state health departments and the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the names and types of e-cigarettes, vaping products and devices, as well as where they were obtained.
According to the CDC, in many cases, including Illinois, patients have acknowledged to health care personnel their recent use of THC-containing products. However, no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses. Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar symptoms.