CDC issues new guidance for doctors treating vaping-related illnesses

CDC issues new guidance for doctors treating vaping-related illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance Friday for clinicians whose patients might have lung illnesses related to vaping.

Because the illness is new, there had been no guidelines for how clinicians should treat patients suspected of having the illness.

Having official guidance from the CDC becomes more important as the U.S. enters the flu season, officials said Friday.

Several symptoms of the flu and other viral infections overlap with those associated with the vaping illness.

As such, all patients with apparent respiratory infections, like the flu, should be asked about their vaping history. 

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“We recommend that clinicians maintain a high index of suspicion for influenza and other respiratory infections in all individuals with respiratory symptoms who also have a history of use of e-cigarette or vaping products,” said Dr. Ram Koppaka, medical officer for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.

“Part of maintaining that index of suspicion is consideration that any given individual might have lung injury, they may have an infection, or they may have both.”

The CDC also says clinicians should strongly advise patients to stop using e-cigarettes or vaping products after treatment. Some clinicians have told the CDC they were concerned about patients resuming use after treatment.

The guidance also recommends clinicians follow up with patients within one or two weeks after being discharged from the hospital.

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration don’t know what is causing the illnesses, but most patients have reported vaping THC products.

“I think that there will be multiple causes and potentially more than one root cause,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.

“I do think the phenomenon we’re seeing is going to have an explanation. It may not be tomorrow. It may take a few months to really understand the portion of the illness that's due to some new risky practice in the preparation of these materials or other other causes.”

The CDC on Thursday confirmed 26 deaths since the outbreak started early this summer.

In all, 1,299 confirmed or probable lung injury cases related to vaping have been reported to the CDC so far, an increase of 219 cases from figures released last week.