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Two Rhode Island Cases Added to National Investigation into Vaping and Lung Injury

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reporting that two Rhode Island cases are now included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into lung injury associated with e-cigarette use, or "vaping."

Both individuals experienced symptom on set in early September and were hospitalized. Both individuals were discharged from the hospital after approximately one week and are recovering. One was in the 18 to 24-year-old age range. The other person was in the 25 to 35-year-old age range. These cases are not linked. Products were obtained from both individuals and were submitted to RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. The State Health Laboratories are coordinating submission to the FDA for testing.

The specific chemical exposures causing lung injury associated with vaping have not yet been identified. Given the unknowns about this lung injury cluster, the CDC is reporting the number of cases in each state using the single designation "confirmed and probable cases." Rhode Island's two cases are among these "confirmed and probable cases."

"While we do not yet know what exactly is causing people to become ill across the country, we do know that these lung injuries are serious, and in some instances even fatal," said Director of Heath Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "E-cigarettes are addictive and dangerous. Children, adolescents, and pregnant women should never vape, and any adult who vapes should strongly consider not doing so until we know more. There are safe, effective resources in Rhode Island to help people quit using e-cigarettes. Help is available today at no cost."

Anyone in need of support for quitting smoking or vaping should contact their healthcare provider or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Rhode Island teens can text the Tobacco Free Rhode Island promo code HOPE4RI to 88709 to access This Is Quitting, a new Truth Initiative text-based service for youth.

In August, the CDC and the FDA announced a nationwide investigation into non-infectious severe lung injury among patients who had used e-cigarettes or vaping devices. As of October 2nd, there have been 805 cases reported from 46 states and one U.S. territory. (This figure does not yet include Rhode Island's two cases. CDC data are updated weekly.) Twelve deaths have been confirmed in 10 states. There have been no deaths in Rhode Island. All patients have a history of vaping. The latest findings from the investigation suggest that products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) play a role in the outbreak. THC is a component in cannabis.

RIDOH has been communicating regularly with Rhode Island healthcare providers about the national investigation. Those communications have included instructions on how to report suspect cases. RIDOH held a conference call today to provide updates to physicians likely to encounter lung injury associated with vaping.

Most patients in the national investigation have experienced respiratory symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain. Some patients have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Other symptoms have included fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks.

Anyone with trouble breathing or chest pain should seek immediate medical attention. Anyone concerned about their health after vaping should contact a healthcare provider.

E-cigarette products should not be bought off the street, and they should not be modified. People should not use e-cigarette products containing THC.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. Parents should talk to their children about these and other dangers of e-cigarette use. The Office of the Surgeon General has guidance online for parents at

Additional information from RIDOH about vaping can be found online:

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