Illinois health officials said that a patient who contracted a serious lung disease after vaping has died, which could make it the first death in the United States linked to the smoking alternative that has become popular with teens and young adults.
The Illinois Department of Public Health did not release the person’s name, age, sex or where they lived, CBS Chicago reported.
“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,” Illinois Public Health Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the release. “We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help us investigate these cases and they arrived in Illinois.”
The agency said at least 22 people, ranging in age from 17 to 38, have developed some type of respiratory illness after vaping or using e-cigarettes. Twelve other cases are under investigation.
Respiratory illness cases connected to vaping have been reported across Illinois, including in Chicago and Champaign. Those affected have had symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Some also experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before they went to the hospital.
As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 153 possible cases in the U.S. in which people have contracted a severe respiratory illness after vaping.
Health officials around the country have been reporting patients getting sick after vaping: two in Connecticut, four in Iowa and six in Ohio that were announced Friday. They are asking doctors and hospitals to tell state health officials about any possible vaping-related lung disease cases they encounter.