Wisconsin's Department of Health Services has confirmed a 12th case of severe lung disease, believed to be linked to vaping, and state health officials are also investigating 13 suspected cases.
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The newest cases also mark the first time the patients have included adults. The prior 11 hospitalizations were all young people. Patients experienced symptoms like trouble breathing, severe fatigue, chest pain, cough and weight loss. Some required treatment in intensive care and significant therapy to help them breathe.
KARE11 has been checking with the Minnesota Department of Health, but a spokesperson says they are not aware of any cases in the state. However, severe lung disease is not being tracked statewide, and not all area hospitals have responded with what they’ve seen.
The CDC is now trying to help Wisconsin and Illinois understand what might link the cases. So far, Wisconsin reports that all the patients vaped for months before getting sick, but the brands and products they used are unknown. Even the substances they vaped could have varied. They might have included nicotine, THC and synthetic marijuana.
"There is really no regulation on where those are coming from,” said Mike Sheldon, spokesman for Clearway Minnesota. “Levels of nicotine that go into them, the other chemicals that are going into them as well, it's really tough to know exactly what's in your product."
According to Clearway, which provides public education on tobacco addiction, there are more 15,500 e-cigarette flavors, contributing to Minnesota's first increase in teen tobacco use in nearly 20 years. While the organization waits to hear about severe cases, Clearway is pushing for more regulation and a statewide tobacco 21 law.
"We don't really understand what these long term health effects are going to be,” Sheldon said.
RELATED: FDA declares youth vaping an epidemic
The FDA has declared youth e-cigarette use an epidemic. Stay with KARE11 for coverage of this evolving topic.