New Hampshire’s first confirmed case of severe, vaping-associated lung injury was announced Monday by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
The patient, whose name, age, gender and condition are being withheld by the agency for privacy reasons, is an adult from Sullivan County. The person was hospitalized, but has since been discharged, according to a news release from the department Monday.
The case is one of 1,080 confirmed nationally as of Oct. 1 from 48 states and one U.S. territory in recent months, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of them, 18 have been fatal. The majority of patients have been under the age of 35, and more than one-third were 20 or younger.
Vaping refers to inhaling vapor from an electronic device such as an e-cigarette, which frequently involves heating a liquid that can contain nicotine, marijuana or other substances. Those active ingredients are delivered in solvents.
People with the lung condition often experience symptoms gradually, including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath and chest pain before being hospitalized, according to the CDC. Other symptoms that have been reported are vomiting, diarrhea, fever and fatigue.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said the New Hampshire patient had reported vaping nicotine products within the past 90 days.
Chan said this detail is important, as the latest national findings suggest marijuana-related vaping products, which contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are playing a central role in the outbreak.
“... even though a majority of patients report vaping THC products, some have reported only vaping nicotine products. Until we have more information from the national investigation, no vaping is considered safe,” Chan said.
The department is investigating other possible cases of the lung injury in New Hampshire, he noted, but state officials do not release the number of cases being investigated because it changes too frequently to be accurate.
Across the state border, Vermont Department of Health spokesman Ben Truman said three cases in Vermont have been confirmed in the past few weeks. Twenty-three cases have been investigated in all, with three pending classification.
The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services has been working closely with health care providers and with the national investigation, Monday’s release says, to identify people affected by vaping and its potential life-threatening health complications.
The department also recently developed a free youth-focused cessation program, My Life, My Quit, targeting nicotine and tobacco vaping.
Participants will work with a coach — who has been trained on tobacco treatments and adolescent tobacco prevention — to help them build a quitting plan, the department stated in a separate news release last week.
Adults interested in quitting tobacco or nicotine products can access help through the free QuitNow-NH program.
But for those wanting to stop vaping THC products, there is no state program at this time, Chan said. The best option is to connect with a primary-care provider, he said.