New Brunswick

2 cases of vaping-related illness suspected in New Brunswick

New Brunswick health officials say two cases of severe pulmonary illness may be linked to vaping.

Health officials warn potential long-term effects of vaping remain unknown

New Brunswick health officials have linked two cases of severe pulmonary illness to vaping. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press)

New Brunswick health officials say two cases of severe pulmonary illness may be linked to vaping.

A news release states provincial officials reported the two cases to federal officials. They have been classified as "probable" in relation to vaping, the news release states.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, told reporters the two people are "currently doing fine." 

But she wasn't able to provide any further details, including the age of the two people, their gender, where the cases were in the province, the extent of the symptoms or whether they were hospitalized.

Russell has encouraged doctors in the province to be on alert for other potential cases and to report them to public health. 

Russell said people who use or have used vaping products, including cannabis, should monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, say the potential long-term effects of vaping aren't known. (CBC)

Those symptoms can include coughing, shortness of breath and chest pains. The news release states those with the symptoms should "promptly" seek medical attention and tell health-care providers that they vape or have vaped in the past. 

"Vaping is not safe for young people or pregnant women," Russell said in the news release.

"I remind all New Brunswickers that vaping is not without risk and that the potential long-term effects of vaping remain unknown."

A statement Friday from provincial and territorial public health officials said people using vaping products breathe in a mixture of chemicals, which include harmful and potentially harmful substances such as nicotine, solvents, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals and flavourings. 

The announcement follows a confirmed case of vaping-related illness in Quebec and cases in the United States.

The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says 1,299 lung injuries linked to e-cigarettes, vaping, or related products have been reported as of Oct. 8 in 49 states. There have been 26 deaths reported in 21 states.  

The CDC reported that most patients had a history of using products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. No single product or substance has been linked to all cases.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has told provincial and territorial health authorities to report probable and confirmed cases in their jurisdictions.

Province 'monitoring' situation

A Health Department spokesperson said the province is concerned about the lung illnesses related to vaping reported in Canada and the U.S. 

"Government is actively monitoring the situation to assess how we can support and educate New Brunswickers on the health risks associated with vaping," Bruce Macfarlane said in an email Friday. 

The former Liberal government passed legislation in 2015 that prohibits the sale of vaping products to those under 19 years old. 

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