Six lung illnesses linked to vaping reported in Travis County

Austin Public Health reports they have found six cases of lung illness confirmed to be related to vaping in Travis County. In all of those confirmed cases the victims have been hospitalized.

Austin Public Health said they expect to see more cases. Doctors now know what to look for since symptoms are close to other illnesses, like the flu. This also means they could have missed reporting some cases.

Dr. Mark Escott, with Austin Public Health, says that the best way to protect yourself is to just stay away from vaping altogether. 

"The take home message is stay away from vaping period. Until we can really figure out what the causes are and what is not involved. It's best to stay away from all of them,” he said. 

So far there are 89 reported cases of lung illness related to vaping in Texas and more than 800 across the nation, including 12 deaths. Dr. Escott said the focus right now is finding which chemical or chemicals is causing the problem. 

“The CDC is still trying to sort out what exact chemicals are involved in these cases. We do know that the vast majority seem to involve THC containing products. We still aren't able to exclude some of the regular vaping liquids that are involved in this issue...”

— Dr. Mark Escott 

Dee Drake is the manager of "Vaped Up Dripped Out" in North Austin.  Drake, who also vapes, feels new users do not get properly informed about the products.

“When people go online they don't have anyone to advise them especially if they are new. No one to say this is for this and this is for that. I've had many people come in and say ‘can I use this juice in this one’ and I say no it's not recommended. ‘Well can I use that juice and this one,’ no it's not recommended,” said Drake.

While the current cause of these illnesses is still being researched, Drake is confident the root of the problem revolves around misuse.

All of the victims in Travis County have been under the age of 40, with two of the victims being in their teens. Treatment for these lung illnesses include respiratory support and steroids to help reduce the inflammation.