First Vaping-Related Illness Reported in North Dakota

It joins 25 other states who have reported severe respiratory illness cases linked to vaping

FARGO, N.D. — Recent reports of people nationwide complaining of pneumonia–like symptoms are becoming more and more common.

“Coughing, difficulty breathing, respiratory, upper respiratory issues,” said Fargo Cass Public Health Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Melissa Markegard.

But they’re not being diagnosed with a cold or the flu.

“A lot of those symptoms can sometimes look like something else, but when you really start digging in, it appears antibiotics sometimes aren’t working for some of these things, and they’re coming back,” she said.

Healthcare providers are linking those symptoms to vaping.

“As far as is this a problem here? Yeah, it’s a problem,” confirmed Markegard.

The North Dakota Department of Health just received the state’s first report of a vaping–related illness: a severe lung infection.

“And that’s just one type of illness that could come from vaping. We just don’t know what those long–term health effects are, and it has given us very real concern,” she said.

According to the state’s most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 20 percent of North Dakota high-schoolers were vaping in 2017.

Public health officials believe that number has risen dramatically since.

“You know, I don’t think anybody realizes what’s really happening, and it’s here. Our Surgeon General, U.S. Surgeon General, has called it an epidemic last year, he called it an epidemic, and he is absolutely right. It is an epidemic. And we’re in the middle of it, and we need to do everything we can to try and put the brakes on it,” said Markegard.

She says people have an obligation to spread awareness of the dangers of vaping.

“I think the average community member can educate themselves, know what they’re looking for,” said Markegard.

And whether it’s a teenager or adult, the physical health concerns remain the same.

“Lungs are lungs no matter if you’re 15 or if you’re 25,” she said.

The North Dakota Department of Health says patients nationwide have responded well to steroids and breathing treatments, while others have been placed on ventilators.

The Department of Health is encouraging anyone with similar symptoms and a history of vaping or e–cigarette use to give them a call.

Categories: Health, Local News, North Dakota News