Stop vaping: State epidemiologist says Alaskans should follow CDC advice
Alaska is following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by recommending people stop using e-cigarette or vaping products.
Alaska State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin says there have been 380 reported cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products in 36 states and one U.S. territory. He says there have also been at least six deaths in six different states.
"Most likely what's happening is this is a chemical exposure, but we have not identified one chemical that has been found in all cases. So at this point it's still unclear what the cause of the outbreak is," he said.
McLaughlin says there are no reported cases of the illness so far in Alaska but says the state is watching very closely.
"We've notified healthcare providers statewide through two public health alerts about the outbreak and asked them to report any suspected cases," he said.
The illness can come on gradually with respiratory symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath and possibly chest pain, according to McLaughlin.
"Sometimes they'll have gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea," he said.
McLaughlin says some people may feel a general sense of fatigue and a possible fever.
"Most of the patients have reported vaping THC products. Some have reported only vaping nicotine products," he said.
President Donald Trump recently proposed banning flavored e-cigarettes nationwide. Michigan was the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes last week and New York followed through with a similar ban this week.
However, a statement from the American Vaping Association Trade Group compared the bans to prohibition.
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