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11 hospitalized with severe lung disease linked to vaping, more cases under investigation

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WISCONSIN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Eleven teens and young adults have been hospitalized with severe lung disease linked to vaping, the Wisconsin Department of Health (DHS) said in a release Friday. 

In addition to those 11 cases, the DHS says seven other cases are still under investigation. The counties with confirmed cases include Door, Racine, Walworth, Dodge, Waukesha, and Winnebago. 

“We are currently interviewing patients, all of whom reported recent vaping. Our disease investigators continue to gather information about the names and types of vape products that were used in hopes of determining a common link,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We strongly urge people to avoid vaping products and e-cigarettes. Anyone—especially young people who have recently vaped—experiencing unexplained breathing problems should see a doctor.”

DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm and Chuck Warzecha, Deputy Administrator of the DHS Division of Public Health, will be hosting a Facebook chat at 2:00 p.m. Friday afternoon. Experts will be available to answer your questions about the illness and vaping from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday on Facebook.

Health officials say the patients experienced shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough, and weight loss. The severity of the disease has varied among patients, with some needing assistance to breathe. While patients have improved with treatment, it is not known if there will be long-term health effects. People should contact their doctor or local or tribal public health offices with any concerns about these symptoms.

This is an ongoing investigation and DHS is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health care providers, and is coordinating with other states to make them aware of the situation so they are prepared if they have reports of similar cases.

People can learn more about e-cigarettes and vaping products—including what they look like and how to talk to kids about them—at tobaccoischanging.com.

For the latest updates on this disease investigation, visit dhs.wisconsin.gov/outbreaks.

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