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U of U doctor: Until lung issues’ cause is determined, don’t vape anything

Posted at 5:26 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 20:11:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Doctors with University of Utah Health say there are now 35 reported cases of severe lung disease from vaping nicotine and THC.

One man in the hospital now said he was on 100 percent Oxygen for the first part of his visit.

Jeffrey Manzanares grew up here in Utah and has smoked since he was 17 years old.

About two years ago, Manzanares said he changed to vaping and vaped about a pack of pods a week.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a heavy user, probably just normal,” he said.

Soon, though, Manzanares said he felt anything but normal.

“I had a really bad headache, I thought I really had a sinus infection or an ear infection, the way it was hurting,” he said.

At first, he thought he had the flu, but when realized he wasn’t getting any better, he decided to go to the hospital.

“I went in and my oxygen was down to 88 and my temperature was 103,” Manzanares said.

Now a week or so later, he is still in bed and says every breath takes it out of him.

“I thought I was going to die at first until pretty much last night,” he said.

Manzanares said he purchased THC cartridges that were made off the street, something local vape shop owners said is extremely dangerous.

Dr. Scott Aberegg, an associate director of medicine over the Pulmonary Care division at the University of Utah Health, said he’s not just worried about the illegally purchased or counterfeit cartridges.

“I think it’s important to not be too alarmist and speak beyond the current evidence that we have, but until we know what’s causing this illness, vaping is something that appears to be capable of causing this illness — regardless of what substances a person is vaping,” he said.

X-rays of patients with severe vaping illness show lungs clouded over with inflammation.

Aberegg said the patients with the most severe illnesses seem to be vaping a very large quantity — sometimes continuously throughout the day.

No matter the quantity, Aberegg said the consequences of vaping are too unclear and he urges people to stop.

“I recommend that no one vape anything until we understand this illness better,” he said.