With reports of vaping-related illnesses on the rise throughout the country and six vaping-related deaths, San Mateo County health officials say that they haven't seen any specific cases of illness in the county that have been tied to vaping.
"We're not saying that we have any cases right now," said Preston Merchant, communications director for the county health department. "It's a new phenomenon, and we don't have any specific information."
Merchant indicated that the department has no immediate plans for a public awareness campaign, and needs more information on which to base an alert.
Meanwhile, county Supervisor David Canepa is calling for an e-cigarette ban in unincorporated areas of the county, noting in a letter to County Counsel John Beiers that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning urging the public to stop vaping.
E-cigarettes used for vaping work by heating a liquid that may contain nicotine or THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, and other substances, to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.
There have been 380 cases of lung illness tied to vaping in 36 states and one U.S. territory, according to a CDC bulletin issued on Sept. 12. The six vaping-related deaths occurred in Los Angeles, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon, the CDC reported.
The illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, according to the CDC. Most of the affected patients reported a history of using vaping products containing THC, while some used products that contained only nicotine.
The CDC hasn't determined any specific cause of the illnesses or identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product that can be linked to all of the illnesses. The agency is working with states to classify confirmed and probable cases in a consistent way and is requiring doctors and public health professionals to interview patients to determine product use and individual behaviors, according to the release.
In his letter to the county counsel, Canepa noted that San Mateo County was "a leader in the nation" when it banned flavored e-cigarettes last year, but considering the recent deaths and illnesses nationwide, "it is time to remove these deadly nicotine delivery devices from the market."