Health Department

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703-246-2411 TTY 711
10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H.
Director of Health

Severe Lung Illness Associated with “VAPING": What You Need to Know

Updated 12/3/19

Many states, including Virginia, have recently reported cases of severe lung injury among teenagers and young adults with a history of "vaping" (i.e., practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device).

The most common symptoms include cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, with the illness getting worse over several days leading to difficulty breathing and admission to the hospital. Other symptoms may include fever, chest pain, nausea, and diarrhea.

A variety of vaping products have been used by people who developed this severe illness. Most report vaping THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) purchased on the street or from a pop-up shop. Investigations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that the illness is related to products containing vitamin E acetate which may be added to THC cartridges. However, other substances also could be contributing to illness.

CDC recommends not using e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC or any e-cigarette or vaping product bought off the street. People who are concerned about health risks should refrain from using any e-cigarette or vaping products. Regardless of the risk of severe lung injury and the ongoing investigation, e-cigarette or vaping products should never be used by youths, young adults or women who are pregnant.

Health care providers should be on the lookout for cases of severe respiratory illness among teenagers and young adults, and ask about recent vaping, dabbing and e-cigarette use. Cases should be reported to the local Health Department (In Fairfax County, 703-246-2433 or Clinicians are also encouraged to report adverse events with e-cigarettes to FDA’s Safety Reporting Portal.

Smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications, rather than e-cigarettes. Quit Now Virginia provides free information and coaching by telephone or online to Virginians who want to quit smoking or using nicotine products. Call 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669) or visit

To learn more about vaping-related illnesses and to get updated numbers of Virginia cases, go to For the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, go to

Severe Lung Illness Associated with “Vaping": What You Need to Know


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