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Mother Lode Counts First Vaping Medical Case

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Sonora, CA – In the wake of a national vaping-related injuries outbreak local public health officials report the Mother Lode’s first probable case.

Tuolumne County Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Bernstein confirms that a person with symptoms consistent with vaping-associated pulmonary injury (VAPI) was recently seen at Adventist Health Sonora.

As of earlier this week, the state’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) counts 144 cases of VAPI across the state, three of which resulted in deaths.

Nationally, health agencies say that to date, there are 1,604 VAPI cases in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S Virgin Islands and 34 confirmed deaths from 24 states. Of those who died from VAPI, the median age was 49 years old with casualties in an age range between 17 and 75 years old.

THC Ingredient Tied To Many Patient Cases 

Dr. Bernstein says most of the confirmed VAPI patients reported using tetrahydrocannabinol or THC-containing products before the onset of symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), patients have presented with a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness and chest pain following the use of vaping devices.

Symptoms consistent with chemical pneumonitis typically worsened over a period of days to weeks before patients were seen by a healthcare provider. Many have required hospitalization, and several have required ICU-level care with mechanical ventilation due to severe respiratory failure.

According to Bernstein, CDC and CDPH are recommending against the use of e-cigarette or vaping products containing THC. However, because the specific compound or ingredient causing VAPI is not known, he says people should consider refraining from sing all e-cigarette or vaping products.

As local, state and national health officials are investigating and tracking VAPI cases to make research findings, Bernstein requests clinicians, EMS/ambulance personnel and other health care professionals who encounter a patient with VAPI-like symptoms to contact his office at 209 533-7401.