Two vaping-related illnesses have been reported in Cascade County, bringing the number of illnesses in Montana to seven identified cases, including one death.
Both new illnesses involved people with a history of using e-cigarettes, or vaping. One is a teen and the other is in their 20s, both living in Cascade County, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
One of the people was hospitalized in September, and the other was treated in August. Both are now recovering. The department is investigating which specific products the two people use.
In October the first death in Montana was reported in relation to the vaping-associated illness. Officials have not released details about the teenager who died, including where they lived or what products they used.
In early October, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock enacted an emergency ban on flavored e-cigarette products for 120 days. That was to discourage young people from vaping while officials investigate the illness.
But that ban garnered criticism from vape shop owners, who argued that the legal flavored products aren't causing the illnesses but THC products are, especially those sold on the black market.
No chemicals, ingredients, or specific products have been identified by officials as causes of the illness, according to DPHHS. Of the seven cases all reported using e-cigarettes, and most reported using a THC product.
The ban was temporarily blocked by a judge out of Ravalli County before going into effect in mid-October, after three vape shops, and the Montana Smoke Free Association, filed a lawsuit against the ban. A judge has not yet ruled on whether to grant the injunction. Court hearings began on Oct. 30.
The first vaping illness in Montana was reported in September in Yellowstone County. That person was in their 30s and had a history of vaping nicotine and THC. The second case announced was in Gallatin County, in a person in their 20s, with a history of vaping nicotine.
Nationwide 2,051 cases have been reported, including 39 deaths in 24 states as of Tuesday, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials state that e-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, people who are pregnant.
Those involved in the national outbreak report symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common. Symptoms worsen over a period of days or weeks and do not appear to be caused by a lung infection. Anyone who vapes and is experiencing respiratory issues should promptly consult their health care provider.
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