NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show more than 2,000 people have been diagnosed with vaping illnesses.
The CDC has also confirmed 39 deaths associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products, including one in Texas.
Puneet Garcha, a pulmonologist at Baylor University Medical Center, said doctors at Baylor have seen a spike in lung injuries related to e-cigarettes or vaping in the past few months.
“Certainly more and more cases are being seen, and these can be fatal,” Garcha said.
The outbreak appears to have started in March. Since then, the CDC says 2,051 confirmed and probable cases have been reported. The illnesses have occurred in every state but Alaska.
“So, investigations are underway by both the FDA and CDC to pinpoint the exact cause of this,” Garcha said.
Although no single ingredient or vaping device has been linked to the epidemic, the majority of patients have said they vaped products containing THC. Some were bought off the streets.
Owner of Wizard’s Vapor Bar in Uptown Dallas, Jalal Bahhur, believes the best use for vaping is to help wean people off cigarettes.
“It’s stuff that’s not regulated,” Bahhur said. “I did vape for about three years and it did help me get off, and that’s what I push to my customers.”
Garcha acknowledges it can be a healthier alternative for long-time smokers. Still, the risks are high.
“The best approach is not to vape or use e-cigarettes,” he said. “That’s the best message.”