HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - State health officials reported three more cases of severe lung disease in Connecticut that are possibly related to vaping.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced the cases on Friday.
The number brings the total in the state to five.
“These illnesses are very concerning because the use of e-cigarette products is increasing in our state and nationally, particularly among our youth,” said Renée D. Coleman Mitchell, DPH Commissioner. “Some people might not be aware of the health risks associated with using these products. Anyone who has used e-cigarette products and experiences respiratory issues should seek medical care promptly because illnesses can become more severe without proper treatment.”
Officials said all five patients became ill in July and August and have since been discharged from the hospital.
The DPH said it is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other state health departments to investigate the cause of the illnesses.
The CDC announced that more than 450 cases of severe lung disease associated with e-cigarette use are under investigation in 33 states.
The patients exhibited symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
Many of them needed intensive care medical treatment.
All of the patients reported using e-cigarette or vaping products. Many said they used products that contained cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
However, health officials said the investigation has not yet identified any single substance or product linked to all of the cases.
"There's no reason to vape if you haven't ever smoked," said Andrew O'Bright, of Smokefree Alternative Trade Association of CT. "Really, what we are is we’re trying to get people off of cigarettes."
E-cigarette products, such as vapes, electronic nicotine delivery systems, and e-pipes, are battery-powered devices that are used to inhale aerosolized liquids.
According to the CDC, aerosols inhaled from e-cigarette devices can contain harmful chemicals that injure the lungs.
The vaping community says the liquids were made for people to kick the nicotine addiction.
"I was about a pack a day, now I'm at a very low level of nicotine in the vape. I use it as a means of trying to quit everything," said Patrick Leonard.
"While it’s safer than tobacco products as far as products of combustion of the lung, apparently, there is still significant toxicity that we’re seeing more and more of," said Dr. Michael Teiger, who practices pulmonary medicine.
He said vaping is still so new that there are still a lot of unknowns.
"Now, you have a whole group of chemicals that we don’t understand well, that are combinations, some toxic, some not toxic, and in susceptible people, you take these chemicals and you inhale them, there’s a high likelihood of developing an inflammatory reaction and that’s what we’re seeing," Teiger said.
Longtime vapers said they aren't worried about the hospitalizations, saying those patients probably got their vape cartridges from a drug dealer.
"Somebody along the line has cut marijuana cartridges with something called Vitamin E oil," O'Bright said.
The CDC has labeled them "counterfeit cartridges," and said the liquids containing THC and vitamin E are popular on the black market.
The CDC recommends that youth, young adults, and pregnant women should not use e-cigarette products. For people who use e-cigarette products, the CDC recommends not buying products off of the street, and not modifying or adding any substances to the products.
More information can be read here.