(CBS News) — Federal health officials are investigating nearly 200 cases of severe lung illnesses among vapers. Concerns over the health risks associated with vaping only grew when an adult in Illinois, who recently used e-cigarettes, died from an unexplained pulmonary illness.
That adult’s death is one of 22 cases recently reported in Illinois, most involving men between the ages of 17 and 38. Some of the men admitted to using THC, an ingredient in marijuana while vaping.
Now, public health officials are investigating 193 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping in 22 states. All of the cases have been reported since June 28.
“We can say that we’re seeing a pattern of lung injury that we’ve not seen before,” said Dr. Emily Chapman, chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota hospitals, where there has been 15 confirmed or suspected cases. “On the chest X-ray, the whole thing looks abnormal, and it looks abnormal equally throughout the entire lung.”
It’s still not clear which product or substances many of those individuals used.
Chance Ammirata, 18, of Florida, wound up in the emergency room after using e-cigarettes. His doctor believes his vaping may have contributed to a lung injury. “It felt like I was genuinely having a heart attack,” Ammirata said, describing the feeling he experienced when his medical emergency began about three weeks ago.
“I would say my chest felt like it was collapsing and tightening up and I couldn’t breathe,” he added.
Emergency room doctors told Ammirata that his right lung had a hole in it and that it had collapsed. “I just freaked out — they said, ‘Your lung has collapsed. You have to go to surgery right now,'” the teen recalled.
The American Vaping Association said that it’s THC or illegal drugs that are to blame for these acute lung injuries. But health authorities said they’re still searching for a common thread that ties these cases together.