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Health department confirms vaping-related illness in Gallatin County

Posted: 11:18 AM, Oct 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-08 16:08:14-04

Gallatin County has its first confirmed case of a vaping-related pulmonary illness, according to the Gallatin City-County Health Department (GCCHD) and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

GCCHD said in a press release a Gallatin County resident in their 20s was hospitalized with the illness in September and is now home recovering. The person has a history of vaping nicotine, THC, and flavor-containing products, the release said.

The case in Gallatin County is the second confirmed in the state of Montana.

From the GCCHD press release:

Recent health surveys in Gallatin County have shown that roughly 1 in 4 high school students in Gallatin report vaping sometime in the past 90 days. “News of a case of vaping-associated illness in Gallatin reinforces the need to educate everyone, and especially young people, about the significant risks that comes with use of vape products,” Kelley said. “We need to do all we can to prevent young people from vaping.”

E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among all youth. The 2019 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed 30% of Montana high school students currently use e-cigarettes and more than 58% have tried them. In Montana, 28% of middle school students report having tried e-cigarettes, and 16% report currently using them.

Approximately 43,000 Montana youth between ages 12 and 18 have tried vaping products and 22,000 Montana youth are currently using vaping products. Between 2017 and 2019, the percentage of Montana high school students using these products frequently (on 20 or more of the past 30 days) has increased by 243% and daily use has increased by 263%.

CDC states that all patients with vaping-associated pulmonary illness reported using e-cigarette products in the weeks and months prior to becoming ill. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common. Symptoms worsen over a period of days or weeks and do not appear to be caused by a pulmonary infection. Anyone who vapes and is experiencing respiratory issues should promptly consult their provider. Healthcare providers treating patients with respiratory illness with no apparent infectious cause and who have a history of e-cigarette use are asked to notify their local health department. Current recommendations include:

  • Until more information is known about this outbreak, CDC and DPHHS are advising people not to use any type of e-cigarette or vaping product.
  • Anyone who uses e-cigarette products and is experiencing respiratory issues should promptly consult their healthcare provider. If it is a medical emergency call 9-1-1 or the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).
  • Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy them off the street and should not modify these products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.
  • Current tobacco users, including e-cigarette users, trying to quit should use evidencebased strategies, which include counseling, FDA-approved medications, and calling the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Youth (anyone under the age of 18) who need help quitting tobacco, including ecigarettes, can text “Start my Quit” to 1-855-891-9989 or visit mylifemyquit.com.
  • The American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line is also available. This resource includes an American Indian Coach that provides culturally appropriate cessation services, distinguishing between commercial and traditional tobacco, and FREE NRT. Call 1-855-372-0037 or enter through 1-800-QUIT NOW and ask for an American Indian coach.
  • DPHHS also offers the Quit Now Montana Pregnancy Program. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). There, a FREE personal female quit coach, cash incentives, and FREE NRT-when approved by doctor is provided. Anyone experiencing unexpected health or product issues related to tobacco or e-cigarettes should submit this information via FDA’s online Safety Reporting Portal.

More information about the investigation is available on the DPHHS website at dphhs.mt.gov.