State health officials are advising the public about a rising trend of respiratory illness among those using e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is currently investigating reports of e-cigarette/vaping-associated respiratory illness. Six cases with ages ranging from 19 to 39 are currently being reviewed - all of which were diagnosed within the last 60 days. It is part of a national outbreak investigation as more than 200 possible cases of severe respiratory disease associated with e-cigarette or vaping use have been reported in 23 states. The state of Illinois reported one death last week.

The severity of illness that people are experiencing is said to be alarming and most of the Michigan patients have required hospitalization. MDHHS Spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin says it has been pretty serious and the illness has a very quick onset so it is something to be concerned about. She says individuals are basically getting problems with shortness of breath and other respiratory issues but some are hospitalized on ventilators. When asked about any marijuana connection, Sutfin told WHMI what they’re finding is that these individuals have had some history of THC use as well so that is also factoring in and is something they’re looking at. She noted that so far, the state investigation has not identified a specific brand of device or e-liquid that is to blame for the illnesses - which seems to be the same across the country.

Thus far, all of the cases reported have been reported in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Sutfin says any e-cigarette or vaping users that experience symptoms should immediately seek medical attention. She says they’re also finding out that symptoms can occur long after the use of a device. Sutfin says if someone has used a device in the last 90 days and are getting symptoms, they are definitely looking at them and investigating the case because this is not just an issue in Michigan but across the country. She says the department is currently working with local and federal partners as part of the national outbreak investigation. She says information was sent out earlier to healthcare providers when they started getting national reports but now that they’re starting to see these cases, they wanted to make sure there was a public notification. (JM)