The number of vaping-related respiratory illnesses went up again this week.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said it's now documented 11 cases, with nine people hospitalized. That's up by two, in both categories, from last week. The new cases were identified in Jefferson County.
Overall, most of the cases involve young men, and the median age is 18.
In five of the cases the patient vaped nicotine only, in three they only vaped marijuana and in two they used both. One case has an unknown cause.
Patients with the illness have been documented in five Front Range counties: Denver, Jefferson, Boulder, Arapahoe, and Weld.
There have been no fatalities in Colorado.
As of last week, the CDC said it was investigating nearly 1,500 cases nationwide, including 33 deaths.
Like the CDC, Colorado is reporting confirmed and probable cases. In a confirmed case, a patient needs to have recently used a vaping product, developed a breathing illness, and not test positive for an infection or appear to be sick from another primary cause. In a probable case, a patient shows the same characteristics, but the clinical team believes vaping is not the only cause of the breathing illness.
On its website, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is urging those who vape to be on the lookout for symptoms such as shortness of breath or trouble breathing, chest pain, cough, fatigue and possible fever.
Those who think they may have been sickened by any vaping product should contact their doctor, local public health agency or poison control at 1-800-222-1222.
The health department is also urging parents to talk to their kids, especially teens, about the risks and dangers of vaping. Free resources are available to help parents talk to their kids at tobaccofreeco.org and from the Colorado School Safety Resource Center.
Colorado has the nation’s highest nicotine vaping rates among teens.
On its vaping illness web page, the health department states “vaping products contain more than just harmless water vapor. They are marketed as a ‘safe’ alternative to smoking, but the long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown.” It recommends those who are vaping in order to quit smoking, to consult your doctor or call the Colorado QuitLine (1-800-QUIT-NOW) to get free FDA-approved treatments.