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Sudden spike in respiratory illnesses raises concern among vape users


Manama: Vaping culture has spread quickly in Bahrain with vape shops mushrooming across the kingdom, ensuring easy access to all users.

E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes, which kill up to half of all lifetime users, according to the World Health Organisation.

But the long-term health effects of the nicotine devices remain largely unknown.

Recently, a spate of medical cases, including one death, have surfaced in the United States of America in a short span of time.

U.S. public health officials last Friday reported a rise in the number of cases of respiratory illness possibly related to the use of e-cigarettes from across 25 states.

The number of cases rose to 215 as of August 27, from the U.S. CDC last update of 193 cases last week.

According to a report, most are in their late teens and 20s with no underlying health issues.

CDC said in a statement, "Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations, which is why our ongoing investigation is critical. CDC and the FDA are providing consultation to state health departments and working closely with them to gather information on any products or substances used. For example, our agencies are working to standardize information collection at the state level to help build a more comprehensive picture of these incidents. This includes investigating the brand and types of e-cigarette products, whether any of them are products that would fall within FDA’s regulatory authority, as well as where they were obtained."

The health agencies reiterated that in some cases, patients acknowledged the use of e-cigarettes containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis.

Additional reports of pulmonary illness are also under investigation.

Concerns spiked last week after Illinois reported the death of a person who vaped, after being hospitalised with severe respiratory illness.

In another case, a Pennsylvania young man was in a medically induced coma Wednesday because of a severe mysterious lung illness that his parents – and doctors – suspect is the result of vaping.

According to a Fox News report, Kevin Boclair (19) was connected to a heart-lung machine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where doctors have said he might need to undergo lung transplant surgery.

Michigan has become the first state to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes in a move aimed at curbing teen vaping.

- With inputs from Reuters