Health Canada says a severe pulmonary illness recently diagnosed in Quebec is the country’s first confirmed case connected to vaping.
It says that while other cases are believed to be linked to the controversial practice, they are still under evaluation by provincial authorities and have not yet been officially classed as tied to vaping.
Health officials in Quebec provided no details about the age and condition of the patient.
Canada’s chief public health officer said last week that at least three reports of potential vaping-related illnesses were being investigated in the country. They included a local health authority’s report that a teen from London, Ont., who used e-cigarettes daily was on life support for a time due to severe pulmonary illness.
Word of the confirmed case in Quebec comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States reported a surge of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.
New numbers released this week show 805 confirmed or probable illnesses and 13 deaths tied to vaping, prompting many states to impose short-term bans on all flavoured products geared towards young consumers.
Health Canada issued a statement saying it’s concerned about the rash of cases, but said it has not yet received official word on whether the “handful” of other suspected domestic instances can be conclusively tied to vaping.
It said those confirmations must come from provincial officials rather than local health authorities before they can be included in the national tally.
“As each incident report requires a full investigation by the jurisdiction, national authorities in Canada ... will report only probable or confirmed cases after they have been officially verified and reported to the national level,” it said in a statement.
Health Canada said the list of criteria needed to confirm a qualifying condition include a history of vaping 90 days before onset, the presence of substances such as pus or blood in the lungs, symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain, and lack of any other plausible explanation.
Quebec’s director of public health echoed a previous warning from Health Canada on Friday, advising people who vape to be vigilant and noting that the practice is not without risks and its long-term health effects are not yet known.
In the past, Health Canada has urged people who vape to watch for symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting and chest pain.
It has also said that health-care professionals should ask patients about their use of e-cigarette products if they have respiratory symptoms.
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