By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Vermont health officials reported the first case of vaping-associated severe respiratory illness in a resident. Five other possible cases are currently being investigated.

As of September 11, 380 confirmed and probable cases and six deaths have been reported to CDC from 36 states and one territory. All reported cases have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping. The majority of patients have a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many have reported using both THC and nicotine, and some have reported using e-cigarette products containing only nicotine. To date, no specific e-cigarette or vaping product or substance has been linked to all cases.

“This is a serious disease that can be deadly,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “The only common link so far is vaping. Until we know more about the specific cause of these illnesses, we strongly recommend that if you vape – stop now. We have resources to help. And if you don’t vape – don’t start.”

Symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, may start gradually and may worsen over a period of days to weeks. Some patients have reported fever, chest pain, weight loss, nausea and diarrhea.

“If you have used e-cigarette products, and experience symptoms, seek medical care and tell your health care provider about your vaping history,” said Dr. Levine.

On Monday, the CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to enhance the inter-agency response to the current investigation into cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarette product use, or vaping.

“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “Activation of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center allows us to enhance operations and provide additional support to CDC staff working to protect our Nation from this serious health threat.”

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CDC’s activation of the EOC allows the agency to provide increased operational support for the response to meet the outbreak’s evolving challenges. Agency subject matter experts will continue to lead the CDC response with enhanced support from additional CDC and EOC staff.

CDC also continues to work closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect information about recent e-cigarette product use, or vaping, among patients and to test the substances or chemicals within e-cigarette products used by case patients.

While this investigation is ongoing, if individuals are concerned about these specific health risks, they should consider refraining from using e-cigarette or vaping products.