BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts health officials require the collection of data on potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping.
Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said on Wednesday all suspected cases of unexplained e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung disease must be reported immediately to the Department of Public Health for the next 12 months.
Last month, the agency sent a warning to 25,000 Massachusetts health care providers asking them to voluntarily report lung-related illness associated with vaping.
"Today's action establishes the legal framework for caregivers to report cases and suspected cases so that we can get a better feel for the overall disease burden in Massachusetts," Bharel said in a written statement. [1
U.S. Health officials are investigating what can cause hundreds of serious respiratory illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes and vaping devices. They have identified about 450 possible cases in 33 states, including six deaths.
Massachusetts is actively investigating several suspected weapons-associated lung cases. There have been no confirmed cases in Massachusetts.
The last time the State Health Commissioner issued a similar mandate was two years ago. This mandate required providers to report cases of amnesia in connection with intravenous drug use.
The new mandate was sent to all clinics – including internal medicine, family practice, general practice, emergency medicine and clinical care – in Massachusetts as well as pediatricians
It encourages providers to report any cases where a person experiences otherwise unexplained progressive symptoms of respiratory distress, , chest pain, coughing or weight loss, severity and abnormal breast formation study associated with vaping.
In the cases reported to the CDC, patients experienced cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. Symptoms worsened days or weeks before being admitted to a hospital.
Other symptoms reported by some patients included fever, anorexia, chest pain, nausea and diarrhea.
All patients had reported vaping for weeks and months before going to the hospital.
No specific product has been identified in any case, and no product has been definitively linked to the clinical syndrome.
According to the state health department, 41% of Massachusetts high school students have tried e-cigarettes at least once. About 20% of them reported using e-cigarettes over the past 30 days – a frequency that is six times higher than that of adults.
Nearly 10% of middle school students say they have tried e-cigarettes.
A 2018 law signed by Governor Charlie Baker includes e-cigarettes in the definition of tobacco, making it illegal to vape where it is illegal to smoke. The law also raised the lowest legal sale of tobacco products – including e-cigarettes – to 21.