The NC Department of Health and Human Services sent out a press release on Friday, Aug. 16 alerting the public that the department is investigating several new cases of a mysterious severe lung disease that hit people after vaping.

According to state health officials, three patients across the state have been hospitalized in recent weeks and similar cases have been popping up in other parts of the country, including Wisconsin, Illinois, California and Minnesota.

No deaths have been reported yet with the most recent alarming vaping related hospitalizations, but state officials are using the occasion to remind everyone how dangerous the process is. This illness under investigation is just the latest concern regarding the practice that health officials have been railing against for years.

E-cigarettes of various forms have been replacing traditional smoking for many; however, health officials are now reminding everyone, that vaping, just like smoking, brings serious risks.

According to the press release sent out by the state, “Although no infectious causes have been identified in this investigation, symptoms are similar to pneumonia caused by bacterial or viral infections. The severity of the disease has varied among patients, with some requiring treatment in the intensive care unit and assistance to breathe.”

The press release also states that the causes of these illnesses are unknown, however, it adds, all of the patients in question reported using e-cigarettes or some vaping device in the weeks before becoming sick.

State health officials are now coordinating with North Carolina Poison Control, other partner agencies in North Carolina, in other states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate this unknown illness.

State Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Tilson said this is another reason to stop vaping.

“We encourage all North Carolinians to avoid vaping products and e-cigarettes”, she said on Friday. “Although the causes of the recently reported cases are still under investigation, this is a reminder of the potentially severe health consequences of vaping.”

No specific brand name or source has been identified as the cause of the illnesses.

Vaping products and e-cigarettes contain harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be sucked into the users’ lungs. Vaping products can be used with nicotine, marijuana, THC or a combination of these substances.

Symptoms reported from patients now hospitalized include shortness of breath, fever, cough and nausea or vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms is being asked to contact their doctor or seek medical care and also to report any use of vaping devices within the past three months.