Virginia health officials warn about lung illnesses linked to vaping, e-cigarettes

"Some have even had to go on life support"

By Lindsey Kennett - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - More than 100 people across the country have reported serious lung illnesses. Now, Virginia health officials are issuing a warning about vaping and e-cigarettes.

The Blue Ridge Poison Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there have been dozens of cases in at least 14 states including Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Health officials say patients have reported pneumonia-like symptoms, including: difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.

An eye-opening warning for smokers and nonsmokers in Roanoke.

"I think it's kind of scary," said nonsmoker Jessica Simmons. "I don't recommend vaping or smoking of any kind. I think it's dangerous and it hasn't been tested enough."

'There's no 100 percent way of knowing exactly what are you smoking," said Sheinna Myers, who smokes cigarettes.

Blue Ridge Poison Center Medical Director Dr. Chris Holstege said symptoms developed quickly in teens and young adults who are otherwise healthy.

"Some have even had to go on life support," said Dr. Holstege.

Carilion Clinic pediatric lung Dr. Joseph Tamez said vaping could make symptoms worse for anyone with asthma or breathing problems. The long-term risks of vaping are still unknown, too.

"There are some inherent risks with vaping and the type of vaping habits that people may have or the vaping materials they are using may pose more of a risk than we have recognized before," said Dr. Tamez.

The American Vaping Association tells NBC that millions of adults vape nicotine each month without issue, saying "it's more likely that products causing lung damage contain THC or illegal drugs."

Health officials say the big questions now are what's in the vaping materials causing these serious health problems and what are the long-term effects of vaping.

If you are experiencing symptoms, call 911 or the Blue Ridge Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222.

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