UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: CDC alert: Vaping associated pulmonary injury

Keywords: vaping, THC, e-cigarette, pulmonary injury (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/22/2019 by Hong Kim, MD, MPH
Click here to contact Hong Kim, MD, MPH


Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued alerts regarding cases of pulmonary illnesses that may be linked to "vaping" (in 15 states with 149 possible cases). These cases are still under investigation but all cases reported vaping weeks/months prior to hospitalization.


Most cases involve young adults who have been using THC-containing products

Common complaints included

  • Gradual onset of shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain
  • GI symptoms: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Fever, fatigue


Imaging studies:

  • Chest x-ray can show bilateral opacity
  • CT lung demonstrates ground-glass opacities with sub-pleural sparing.


Clinical course

  • Some cases required mechanical intubation
  • Corticosteroid treatment appears to improve clinical course
  • Infectious evaluation was negative in almost all cases.
  • No clear causative etiology has been identified
  • No death has been reported 


What to do:

  • Inquire about vaping history when treating patients with suspected cases.
  • Providers should contact their local health department, poison center or CDC ( to report possible case of vaping associated pulmonary injury