The Ohio Department of Health said Wednesday that three cases of a pulmonary illness related to vaping have been confirmed in the state.

Another 11 cases are under investigation.

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director for the Ohio Department of Health, said Tuesday that the investigation process includes interviews with ill individuals to establish vaping usage, attempts to obtain a sample of the products used, and in some cases, lung samples to analyze affected tissue.

"We do know there are a number of problematic things that occur because of vaping," Hurst said.

Heavy metals and ultra fine particles are breathed into the lungs, he said. The superheating of the vaping product can also alter its chemical composition.

The department issued a health alert on Aug. 23, asking health care providers to report all suspected cases of the lung illness, first reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, to local or state public health officials for investigation.

Ohio’s three confirmed cases range in age from 18 to 26 years old and include two females and one male.

All three required hospitalization.

The ill people reside in Lucas, Richland and Union counties, the state agency said.

On Tuesday, Summit County Public Health confirmed that one case in the county is under investigation. The case developed over the weekend. No further information was available Wednesday.

Also on Tuesday, the county health agency recommended that individuals who vape stop immediately.

Many young people have adopted vaping as an alternative to traditional smoking, said Cory Kendrick, policy and legislative affairs manager at Summit County Public Health.

"We have a really high rate of our teenagers — especially our seniors in high school — that have tried a vaping product," Kendrick said Tuesday. "One in four [students] in high school have used a vape product in last 30 days."

If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, the Ohio Health Department recommends contacting your doctor or visiting the department's website for information about resources, including the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW).

 

Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or emailed at aashworth@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconjournal.