Photo: Contributed Photo
Image 1 19
Kings County is warning vape users to avoid buying cannabis e-cigarettes on the street after seven people in Hanford were hospitalized in the intensive care unit with a potentially fatal lung toxin.
The seven suffered pneumonia-like symptoms associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome, according to the alert, issued Wednesday. They include a feeling of not being able to get enough air in one’s lungs, rapid breathing, low blood-oxygen level, low blood pressure, extreme fatigue and confusion.
All of the victims had been vaping either cannabis or CBD oils from cartridges purchased at temporary “pop-up shops” in the last month. No infectious agent was immediately identified.
“If you’re going to vape THC, get it from a licensed dispensary where you know there’s a certain amount of testing required to do,” Dr. Milton Teske, a health officer with the Kings County Department of Public Health, told the web site Leafly. “It’s going to cost twice as much as the stuff on the street, but you don’t want to end up with a life-threatening respiratory condition.”
Pop-up shops are unlicensed markets that do not follow any current regulations or safety practices, and usually do not screen their products for contaminants.
According to Leafly, producers import the empty vape cartridges from China and then fill them with raw THC oil cut with agents such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil or more exotic chemicals.
Teske said six of the Hanford patients were in their 20s and one was a 60-year-old longtime marijuana user who had just tried vaping cartridges for the first time. Two had to be put on mechanical ventilation to save their lives.
Hanford is located outside of Visalia in Central California.
Meanwhile, in New York, health officials issued a statewide advisory Friday after 11 people contracted pulmonary disease after using vaping products. Most were in the western portion of the state.
Some of the patients had “progressive respiratory compromise” — a deterioration in respiratory function with a high likelihood of rapid progression to respiratory failure and death — requiring endotracheal intubation, the state Department of Health stated in the release.
Mike Moffitt is an SFGATE Digital Reporter. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @Mike_at_SFGate.