Oklahoma sees first reported case of vaping-related illness

Published: Sep. 26, 2019 at 6:28 PM CDT
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The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported the first case of a vaping related illness in Tulsa County.

While this is the first vaping related illness confirmed in Oklahoma, the CDC says there have been over 800 cases of lung injuries across the country, even 12 deaths linked to vaping.

One local vape shop owner believes those injuries and deaths are a reason why he's losing business.

"My business has gone down by 70 percent since this has started. I've had to lay off an employee since this started," said Jarvis Neans, owner of Texoma Top Shelf.

Neans acknowledges while there may be health concerns linked to vaping, he believes the real problem stems from products not sold in stores.

"When you throw a blanket statement like the person was vaping out there, and it starts to kill businesses across the nation, we work very hard to try to help people quit smoking. Wherever they're buying it from, they're the ones that need to be investigated," said Neans.

The CDC said as of Thursday, over 800 cases of lung injury have been reported across the country.

The vaping death toll rose to 12 on Thursday.

Oklahoma State Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed says the state's health department has found common symptoms for those who have gotten sick from vaping and e-cigarettes.

"Shortness of breath, cough, chest pain. Individuals may require medical care or evaluation because of experiencing pneumonia, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea," said Burnsed.

The CDC has still not determined what products were being used, or how they were bought.

However, Burnsed thinks he knows what they'll find.

"There's also an issue in regards to some individuals purchasing from a wide variety of commercial products as well as off-the-street products," said Burnsed.

Neans hopes something can change before thousands of people go out of business from this health scare.

"I don't know if I need to go to Austin to go stand on the steps of the capitol, or what I need to do but I hate this happened to this kid and I hate that all these people are dying. But come down to why they are dying," said Neans.

Right now, Oklahoma State health officials are warning people to not buy vaping products off the street, and they also say don't modify or add substances not intended by the manufacturer.

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