(Electric Tobacconist/Flickr)

(Electric Tobacconist/Flickr)

Canadian officials monitor reports of vaping-linked illnesses in the U.S.

Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and vomiting

Health authorities in Canada are closely monitoring increasing reports in the United States of respiratory illnesses in hundreds of people, mostly teenagers, potentially linked to vaping.

There have been at least 450 possible cases, including five deaths, identified in the U.S. this year and many said they had been vaping THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its high.

There have been no reports of the same sickness in Canada, but Health Canada issued a warning recently, urging people who vape to watch for symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. It also said that health-care professionals should ask patients about their use of e-cigarette products if they have respiratory symptoms.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has asked provincial officials to report any possible incidents of pulmonary illness associated with vaping.

Alberta has started legally requiring health-care professionals in that province to report suspected cases under their public health act.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said in light of the cases in the U.S. she is reinforcing a message that there a risks to vaping.

“Vaping is a relatively new technology that we don’t know what all the health implications might be and we’re adding to that message of course with the recent events in the States to remind people that vaping is not without risk,” she said.

“Young people, pregnant women and those who don’t use tobacco products should not vape and also that any vaping products that are bought on the illicit market or if people are altering their own vaping devices, that those kinds of things could increase the risk.”

READ MORE: Health Canada warns against modifying vape pens as illness spreads in U.S.

In Ontario, Health Minister Christine Elliott is looking to bring experts together through informal roundtables to understand what is happening and look for potential solutions.

“We take this issue very seriously,” Elliott said in an interview. “This is a situation that appears to be growing, not abating…We are looking at what the situation is here in Ontario and what can and should be done.”

Vaping was also recently added as a new topic in Ontario’s health and physical education curriculum for elementary students. The risks are explored as part of the Grade 4 curriculum on substance use and addictions, but it is also listed as an example of behaviours that can be harmful to a person’s health in the curriculum starting in Grade 1.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health has said he is sending informal email inquiries to respiratory specialists and intensive care units at Nova Scotia hospitals to see if there are any similar cases to what is happening in the U.S.

British Columbia’s health ministry said it has been preparing a response to the issue, including education and awareness as part of a strategy to reduce the number of youth vaping in the province.

American officials have urged people to stop vaping until they can figure out the case of the mysterious illnesses. No single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses.

Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and vomiting. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in.

The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. said it doesn’t know if the illness is new or just newly recognized.

New York state has focused its investigation on an ingredient called Vitamin E acetate, which has been used to thicken marijuana vape juice but is considered dangerous if heated and inhaled. State investigators have found the substance in 13 cartridges collected from eight patients.

— With files from The Associated Press

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP execute search warrant; illegal drugs seized

Two Wetaskiwin residents have been charged with possession and trafficking of Methamphetamine.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Vandalism is shown on Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin’s constituency office in Edmonton in this handout photo on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney quickly condemned vandalism at an Opposition legislature member Janis Irwin’s Edmonton office after the MLA posted pictures showing her front window spray-painted with the words “Antifa Liar.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Janis Irwin *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

Edmonton MLA Janis Irwin posted pictures showing the front window spray-painted with the words ‘Antifa Liar’

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Most Read