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

85-year-old Comox sprinter competes in worldwide virtual track meet

Toronto was slated to be the host city for the 2020 World… Continue reading

City of Courtenay 2019 annual report available for review

The City of Courtenay has released the draft 2019 Annual Report highlighting… Continue reading

Scaled-down Comox Valley Exhibition set for Aug. 28-30

The Comox Valley Exhibition is a go for 2020. The annual event… Continue reading

Military personnel relocation producing many foreign licence plates in the Comox Valley

Comox Mayor Russ Arnott is asking the public to consider the possible… Continue reading

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Police find used, uncapped needle tied to handrail in Vancouver Island Park

Officers believe the needle was put there with the intent to harm someone

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Most Read