Alaska Confirms Its First EVALI Case: Earlier in December, DHSS announced that Alaska’s first case of e-cigarette, or vaping, product-use associated lung injury (EVALI) was identified in Alaska in a teenager from Southeast Alaska. Alaska was the last state in the United States to identify an EVALI case. The patient has recovered, thankfully. For more information, read the Dec. 3 DHSS press release.
DHSS Vaping Commentary: I wrote a commentary about youth vaping and THC that was recently published in several Alaska newspapers, including the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, the Juneau Empire and Alaska Native News.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Update: As of Dec. 17, more than 2,500 cases of EVALI have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.) and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands); 54 deaths have been confirmed in 27 states and D.C.
The Role of Vitamin E Acetate in the Outbreak: Recent studies have established a firmer link between vitamin E acetate and EVALI, but additional substances and product sources are still under investigation. The Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office has reviewed all vaping products approved by the Marijuana Control Board and found that no board-approved vaping products contained vitamin E acetate.
Recommendations: The CDC continues to recommend that people should not use e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers. The only way to assure that people are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from the use of all e-cigarette or vaping products.
How to Report: Health care providers should report cases of respiratory illness of unclear etiology among persons with a history of e-cigarette product use within the past 90 days to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology at, 907-269-8000 or 800-478-0084 (after hours). Patients who experience symptoms like those reported in this outbreak should seek medical care promptly. Patients can also call the Alaska Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222. Please consider printing and posting this flyer in your break rooms to encourage reporting.
CDC Clinical Guidance: EVALI is considered a diagnosis of exclusion because, at present, no specific test or marker exists for its diagnosis. CDC’s updated interim guidance provides a framework for health care providers in their initial assessment, evaluation, management, and follow-up of persons with symptoms of EVALI, but is not intended to substitute clinical judgment. Health care providers should consider multiple etiologies, including the possibility of EVALI and concomitant infection. Read more.
Quit Line: To help your patients quit using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, please refer them to Alaska's Tobacco Quit Line, 800-QUIT NOW (800-784-8669). Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line has staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week specifically trained to help tobacco users quit with no cost to the individual.
For More Information: DHSS webpage, Vaping Associated Pulmonary Illness Outbreak