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Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center Warns of Severe Lung Injury Risk with Vaping

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Vaping-related respiratory illness cases – and even vaping-related deaths – are on the rise across the nation, and the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is cautioning individuals to avoid, or at least minimize, the use of e-cigarettes.

As of Sept. 6, more than 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarettes have been reported from 33 states and one U.S territory. Five vaping-related deaths have been confirmed.

These devices, also known as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” “mods,” “tanks,” or other names, can contain potentially harmful substances in both the active and inactive ingredients, as well as heavy metals in the physical device itself. The cause of the outbreak is unknown and is being investigated.

The two poison centers in Arizona are working with a network of organizations, including local and state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, to investigate the cause of this outbreak and to help patients and health-care providers.

“Safety is key here. Since no definitive cause has been found, it is best to avoid e-cigarette use because there is no way to guarantee any one product or device is safe,” said Steven Dudley, PharmD, DABAT, toxicologist and managing director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center. “If clinicians treat a patient with a possible e-cigarette exposure, please call the poison center. We can assist with patient management, interviewing and reporting to health departments.”

Reported signs and symptoms of suspected vaping-associated lung injury include:

  • Fever, nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath, cough and chest pain
  • Progression of symptoms over several days with similarities to a viral illness
  • Vaping in the days to weeks before symptom onset

PLEASE NOTE: The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. The center is staffed by specially trained pharmacists and physicians who are available 24/7/365 to assist the public and health-care providers throughout Arizona.

About the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is housed in the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. The College is the premier pharmacy college in the Southwest, and one of the top in the nation focused on drug discovery, toxicology, pharmaceutics, outcomes sciences, pharmaceutical education and research through interprofessional training and collaborative public/private partnerships. Preparing pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists in undergraduate, professional, graduate and post-doctoral programs, the college embraces an entrepreneurial spirit, providing tailored educational opportunities to broaden students' experiences. As the first health sciences college at the UA, the college has a long history of improving science and health both in Arizona and around the world. For more information, please visit www.pharmacy.arizona.edu

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 900 faculty members and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram)

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