Vaping is seen as a healthier alternative to smoking for many, but is this really the case? (Stock photo)

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Canada’s chief public health officer says at least three reports of potential vaping-related illnesses are being investigated, but she doesn’t consider any to be confirmed.

Theresa Tam says one of the cases comes from London, Ont., where a teen who used e-cigarettes daily suffered a severe case of pulmonary illness.

Officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit say the youth was initially on life support in an intensive care unit, but was sent home to recover.

They have been unable to conclusively say the respiratory ailment was the result of vaping, but the health unit’s medical officer said there was no other identifiable cause.

“I’m also aware of … a couple of additional incidences under investigation that we are aware of through the Health Canada Consumer Product Safety reporting system,” Tam said Friday.

Tam wouldn’t divulge the health status of the individuals, their ages, or where they’re from.

Some of the cases date back to 2018 “so they’re not necessarily recent,” but investigations into them are new.

READ MORE: B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada is concerned about the report from Ontario and the more than 500 cases — including seven deaths — that have been recorded in the United States.

She has contacted all provincial and territorial chief medical health offices to provide guidance in terms of investigations and definitions for a confirmed or probable case.

She wouldn’t comment on how many people may be under investigation at a local level, but expects cases that have been fully reviewed to be reported to the national agency.

A statement from British Columbia’s provincial health officer said there is no known case there and no investigations are underway.

“I do however expect that as awareness increases, it is likely that cases in Canada and B.C. will be identified,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said there’s no record of pulmonary illnesses associated with vaping in Saskatchewan, but he’s asked health officials to monitor all potential cases in hospital intensive care units.

The province’s chief health official has also told hospitals to report to local medical health officers all cases of non-infectious severe respiratory disease possibly due to vaping.

“Ultimately, in Canada, we want all such cases to be reported to the chief public health officer of Canada,” Saskatchewan chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said Friday.

“Are we seeing, in Canada, potentially going forwards, what the U.S. has been seeing over the past 30 days?” Shahab asked.

“These are, for the most part, people who are otherwise young, healthy, with no pre-existing heart or lung disease, who develop severe respiratory infection, get very ill and, unfortunately in some cases, die,” said Shahab.

ALSO READ: Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

He said U.S. public health officials learned that those who fell sick had vaped within the last 90 days. In many cases, they had done so on a daily basis and used products that were not regulated, such as vaping pods with added substances such as cannabis.

The president of the Canadian Medical Association recently said youth vaping has become a public health crisis.

Reiter said in a statement that he’s worried about how popular vaping is among young people and he’d like parents to warn their children about the risks.

Shahab said the province is proposing changes for the fall that would see vaping products treated the same way as tobacco, including not displaying them in retail stores and restricting sales to minors.

“I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping.”

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kicking Horse conditions update, Wednesday February 19

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. The… Continue reading

Golden highway update, Wednesday February 19

DriveBC reports slippery sections along Highway 1 just west of Golden, between… Continue reading

Golden Dollar Store celebrates 20 years

Opening its doors in December 1993, the store will spend 2020 celebrating 20 years of business

Kicking Horse Update, Tuesday February 18

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. The… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Tuesday February 18

When travelling along Highway 1 this morning, watch for slippery sections between… Continue reading

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Galchenyuk nets shootout winner as Wild edge Canucks 4-3

Vancouver tied with Calgary for second spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

B.C.’s soda drink tax will help kids lose weight, improve health, says doctor

Dr. Tom Warshawski says studies show sugary drinks contribute to obesity

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

First case of COVID-19 in B.C. has fully recovered, health officer says

Three other cases are symptom-free and expected to test negative soon

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

Most Read