KDHE urges residents to stop vaping after fatality reported in Kansas Featured

KDHE urges residents to stop vaping after fatality reported in Kansas ABC News Radio photo

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is telling residents to stop vaping and all e-cigarette use after a confirmed fatality and the development of six severe lung disease cases across the state since late August.

KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman did not mince words in a video statement released this week, saying an epidemic is now underway.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Farah Ahmed says a Kansas resident over age 50 recently died. Several details are not being released because of patient privacy laws, but KDHE says the patient had underlying health issues and symptoms "progressed rapidly" once they developed. She says symptoms are varied.

Nationwide, there have been 450 confirmed or possible cases in 33 states reported this year, including six deaths.

The latest KDHE stats dating back to 2017 indicate almost 35 percent of Kansas high school students have tried e-cigarettes and almost 11 percent use them on a regular basis. Nearly five percent of Kansas adults also use regularly.

The cause of the lung illnesses are unclear. Norman says there are certain oils, including Vitamin E acetate, as well as heavy metals and poisons that are thought to contribute but have not been confirmed.

For more information on vaping or the use of e-cigarettes through KDHE, go online to www.kdheks.gov/vaping/index.htm

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