LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — The Southern Nevada Health District reported two additional cases of Clark County residents having a severe respiratory illness linked to e-cigarette products.Â
SNHD said both patients are 18-years-old or older. The first reported case of an illness linked to vaping in Clark County was reported in a patient who was younger than 18.
According to the Health District, symptoms reported with these vaping-related illnesses included:
One of the reported patients was using e-cigarettes with nicotine products only, SNHD said. Two of the other patients were reportedly using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products, and one of them also reported using cannabinoid (CBD) oils.
All three told to the Health District they had purchased or acquired their products from different resources, including friends, retailers and online purchases.Â
According to the Health District, all three patients had been hospitalized but are now recovering from their illness.
“While the cause of this outbreak is still unknown, there is an undeniable association with the use of e-cigarette products,” said Dr. Joe Iser, chief health officer for SNHD. “My continued recommendation is for people not to use any vaping products or e-cigarettes.”
Nationally, there have been 380 reported cases of lung illness associated with vaping or e-cigarette products by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, SNHD said. The CDC’s report had been recently revised to include only confirmed or probable cases.
Seven deaths have been reported by the CDC, with the most recent occurring in California. According to the Health District, the CDC continues to report that it has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked in all cases.
Many, but not all patients, reported using THC in vaping or e-cigarette products, SNHD said. Vaping counts for about 25 percent of cannabis sales in Nevada.
The Nevada Vaping Association (NVA) issued a warning to consumers to not use marijuana-based products that are not intended for vaping. Their full statement said:
Nevada Vaping Association strongly cautions consumers to not vape marijuana-based THC or cannabinoids products not intended for vapor use due to the significant number of deaths linked to these products.
â€śConsumers should be aware of what they are vaping; there are many types of e-liquids, and homemade marijuana-based THC or Cannabinoids products can clearly be harmful to the userâ€™s health and even cause death,â€ť said Alex Mazzola, President of the Nevada Vaping Association. â€śConsumers must know the difference between manufactured nicotine-based products intended to be vaporized that have not been link the recent fatalities which are very different from homemade marijuana-based THC or Cannabinoids products that have.â€ť
Nicotine-based e-liquids are tobacco products often used as a harm reduction strategy for those trying to quit smoking and are sold at convince stores and vape shops across Nevada. Marijuana-based THC or cannabinoids vapor products are often purchased on the street or mixed at home from products that can be purchased at a marijuana dispensary that were not designed for vaping.
â€śIt can be deadly to buy e-liquid product on the streets or mix products not intended by the manufacturer to be consumed using in a vaporizer,â€ť Mazzola said. â€śWhen you donâ€™t buy products that are designed to be vaporized from a reputable retailer, there is no way to know if what you are buying or mixing at home could result in death if consumed.â€ť
A list of vape shop that sell only products intended for vapor use can be found at NevadaVaping.org.
The National Cannabis Industry Association put out a call to action to Congress, asking lawmakers to deal with vaping-related illnesses and to legalize and regulate marijuana.
Jason Sturtsman, a cannabis industry insider, said the problem was illegal vape sellers were mixing cannabis with harmful oils such as Vitamin E.Â
This is resulting in a condition called ‘Popcorn Lung’ or ‘Oil Lung,'” he said. “The entire cannabis industry does not have coconut oil as an additive.Â If you look, a lot of vape pens will say pure cannabis oil.”
Sturtsman added it was “bad players” on the Black Market who are giving legitimate vape sellers a difficult time. He also mentioned spotting fakes can be difficult.
“When I have seen them in the pass, they tend to be a little bit darker,” he said. “[Vitamin E] is a thickening agent, so they actually add that so it appears thicker, higher quality because itâ€™s an illegal product. They want it to appear to look like a dispensaryâ€™s product.”
Sturtsman said vaping is just another part of the growing cannabis industry that needs to be better regulated.
The Nevada Dispensary Association (NDA) also released a statement on the recent concerns of vaping illness:
The NDA first expresses its condolences to those suffering from these serious conditions and to the family members of those that have passed away or have been impacted. As the Center for Disease Controlâ€™s (CDC) investigation is ongoing, the NDA affirms its ongoing commitment to promoting best practices and maintaining public health and safety as the industryâ€™s first priority. The NDA fully supports studying and determining the cause of these health issues in an expedited and robust manner. Once the cause is determined, the NDA will fully support implementation of measures the CDC identifies as necessary to avoid vape-related pulmonary diseases.
The CDC has cautioned, “Regardless of the ongoing investigation, persons who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.”
The CDC also cautions persons to avoid â€śmodifying e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.
Medical cannabis patients and adult use consumers should also be aware that they can request “certificates of analysis” at legal dispensaries which provide the results of quality assurance testing the products must pass. Nevada has already passed strict testing standards as well as other safeguards to protect public safety, but the industry and policymakers must remain vigilant to ensure the testing and safety standards accurately detect and eliminate potentially dangerous substances. The NDA is committed to working with Nevadaâ€™s policymakers to continuously improve the accuracy of cannabis quality assurance testing.
The NDA also echoed the national Cannabis Trade Federation in imploring cannabis users to avoid using illegal market products, to continue working with policymakers to investigate and eliminate the source of the reported pulmonary illnesses and continuing to provide an education on the best practices/complying with regulatory framework.
The Health District recommended these products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women and people who do not currently use tobacco products. Those who currently use tobacco products and wish to quit were advised to use FDA-approved therapies.
Anyone who uses e-cigarette products and experiences symptoms of a vaping-related illness were advised by the Health District to seek medical care right away.