Houston confirms 3 'vaping' hospitalizations, none confirmed in Austin yet
AUSTIN, Texas - Vaping is something many old-fashioned cigarette smokers have taken up in the last decade.
Austinite Jarod Carter says he started using e-cigarettes to try and quit traditional tobacco.
"I was a half a pack smoker a day," Carter said. "That's quite a bit. I think there's 20 cigarettes in a pack.That's 10 cigarettes a day, just throughout the day, 7 minutes at a time."
Now Carter has given up vaping as well.
"Now there's vapors inside your lungs and you're doing it in massive amounts," he said.
He doesn't plan on starting again.
"Me personally, I see no need to pick it up," Carter said. "Especially with the stuff you're seeing going around."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified more than 450 possible cases in 33 states of lung disease related to vaping.
On Tuesday morning, Dr. David Persse, Public Health Authority for the City of Houston, announced three confirmed cases of teens hospitalized due to vaping.
"At this point it needs to be thought of as an injury to the lungs caused by something in the vaping," Persse said. "It is not an infection, it does not respond to antibiotics and it is very severe."
Persse says it's predominantly happening to younger people.
"Something clearly has changed in the last months to six weeks, in the products that are being vaped," Persse said. "And that's what the CDC is working on."
He says the CDC is looking into whether it's teens vaping THC or if it's something else.
"The scientists that are researching this I should say are looking at a Vitamin E analog that is used in there," Persse said. "And Vitamin E is generally not a problem, we've used it in our food, it's a generally good substrate to have in your diet, but it is an oil-based substance and perhaps that's not so good in your lungs. Especially when it's at high heat. So we don't know."
The Texas Department of State Health Services says there are 29 possible cases in Texas, including 17 that they've determined are probable matches to the circumstances being reported elsewhere.
Jennifer Audas is with her 17-year-old daughter Witney in a Dallas hospital. Witney is being treated for a lung injury, according to doctors.
"She was doing like 80 breaths per minute, which is extremely fast," Audas said. "I called back up to urgent care and took her up there. She could have almost died then."
Audas says her daughter has been vaping for two years.
"She kind of knew that this is what it was," Audas said. "She knew how much she had been vaping and she knew the risks of it."
Audas says vaping is not worth it.
"The ventilator was the best thing because she could not breathe on her own. She was basically on life support. She would have died if she wouldn't have had it and still she's getting a lot better. Hopefully they're going to be able to take the ventilator out soon but we just don't know there is no timeline. It's day by day," Audas said.
The CDC also says five deaths related to vaping have been confirmed across the country. While they investigate this, the agency is urging the public to consider just not using e-cigarette products.
So far the issue hasn't really hit Austin yet, at least according to official channels. Austin Public Health says we're not seeing it here.
One local hospital says they've had a few patients in for vaping recently.