(Electric Tobacconist/Flickr)

Canadian officials monitor reports of vaping-linked illnesses in the U.S.

Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and vomiting

Health authorities in Canada are closely monitoring increasing reports in the United States of respiratory illnesses in hundreds of people, mostly teenagers, potentially linked to vaping.

There have been at least 450 possible cases, including five deaths, identified in the U.S. this year and many said they had been vaping THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its high.

There have been no reports of the same sickness in Canada, but Health Canada issued a warning recently, urging people who vape to watch for symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. It also said that health-care professionals should ask patients about their use of e-cigarette products if they have respiratory symptoms.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has asked provincial officials to report any possible incidents of pulmonary illness associated with vaping.

Alberta has started legally requiring health-care professionals in that province to report suspected cases under their public health act.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said in light of the cases in the U.S. she is reinforcing a message that there a risks to vaping.

“Vaping is a relatively new technology that we don’t know what all the health implications might be and we’re adding to that message of course with the recent events in the States to remind people that vaping is not without risk,” she said.

“Young people, pregnant women and those who don’t use tobacco products should not vape and also that any vaping products that are bought on the illicit market or if people are altering their own vaping devices, that those kinds of things could increase the risk.”

READ MORE: Health Canada warns against modifying vape pens as illness spreads in U.S.

In Ontario, Health Minister Christine Elliott is looking to bring experts together through informal roundtables to understand what is happening and look for potential solutions.

“We take this issue very seriously,” Elliott said in an interview. “This is a situation that appears to be growing, not abating…We are looking at what the situation is here in Ontario and what can and should be done.”

Vaping was also recently added as a new topic in Ontario’s health and physical education curriculum for elementary students. The risks are explored as part of the Grade 4 curriculum on substance use and addictions, but it is also listed as an example of behaviours that can be harmful to a person’s health in the curriculum starting in Grade 1.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health has said he is sending informal email inquiries to respiratory specialists and intensive care units at Nova Scotia hospitals to see if there are any similar cases to what is happening in the U.S.

British Columbia’s health ministry said it has been preparing a response to the issue, including education and awareness as part of a strategy to reduce the number of youth vaping in the province.

American officials have urged people to stop vaping until they can figure out the case of the mysterious illnesses. No single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses.

Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and vomiting. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in.

The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. said it doesn’t know if the illness is new or just newly recognized.

New York state has focused its investigation on an ingredient called Vitamin E acetate, which has been used to thicken marijuana vape juice but is considered dangerous if heated and inhaled. State investigators have found the substance in 13 cartridges collected from eight patients.

— With files from The Associated Press

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Water recovery team stands down search for missing man in Stellako River

Jason Bouchard was in a boat with a friend that overturned in the river May 16

COVID-19: Increased federal funding for off-reserve Indigenous services welcomed news in north

Funding to benefit organizations such as friendship centres during pandemic

COVID-19: PG Community Foundation to disperse community support funds

$197,630 in funding announced by the Prince George Community Foundation

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

DFO allowing at-sea observers again if safe work procedures in place

May 15 fishery notice lays out conditions for allowing at-sea observers onboard amid COVID-19

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read