Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties public health officials are warning about the dangers of vaping and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a severe pulmonary condition which produces flu-like symptoms and can rapidly escalate.
Health officials issued a public health warning on Aug. 14, against ARDS, after recent spike of individuals in Kings, Fresno, and Tulare counties being admitted to hospitals with the severe pulmonary condition.
Symptoms may include rapid breathing, nausea, a low blood oxygen level, low blood pressure, confusion, and extreme tiredness.
According to health officials, ARDS can be caused by vaping cannabis or CBD oils.
Dr. Milton Teske, health officer, with the Kings County Department of Public Health, said since June, seven cases of ARDS have been identified, requiring hospitalization and respiratory support among previously healthy adults.
Some of those patients’ conditions were so severe they were admitted to the intensive care unit and required respiratory support through mechanical devices, according to Kings County health officials.
The first symptoms of ARDS are feeling like you can’t get enough air into your lungs, rapid breathing, a low blood oxygen level, low blood pressure, confusion, and extreme tiredness.
If people experience any of these symptoms of ARDS, health officials urge them to seek immediate medical treatment.
Similarities in the recent cases are being investigated in Kings County in partnership with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
In Kings County, a reported common exposure among the patients was that they have been vaping cannabis or CBD oils.
Health officials said that at this time, no infectious cause has been identified.
One pattern also observed during the investigation was that all of the cases to date have involved the purchasing of vape cartridges from “pop-up shops,” according to health officials.
Pop-up shops are temporary shops that open for an undetermined amount of time, advertise by word of mouth, and will move locations frequently, according to Nancy Gerking, assistant director of Public Health for Kings County Health Department.
Gerking said those pop-up shops are not licensed retailers and do not follow any current regulations or safety practices, including selling only products that have been tested for contaminants.
Since cannabis or CBD oil use is legal in California, if people are going to use cannabis or CBD oil or a combination of both, health officials urged consumers to be cautious, and only purchase from a reputable licensed retailer or distributor and under no circumstances should people vape cannabis or CBD oils obtained from a “pop-up shop.”
The long-term health impacts of vaping are unknown, according to health officials.
The Kings County Department of Public Health and CDPH will continued their investigation and surveillance.
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