Caribbean

Health Authorities in Barbados Warn of Vaping Risks Amid Outbreak of Respiratory Illnesses in US

BRIDGETOWN,
Barbados, Monday September 16, 2019
– The Ministry
of Health and Wellness has warned Barbadians about the dangers of vaping,
particularly on the heels of reports of an outbreak of severe respiratory
illnesses associated with the practice in the United States.

In a statement, the Ministry said that the cause of the outbreak,
which has so far resulted in six deaths, was still not entirely clear, but
investigations were ongoing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George, said that vaping
was a fairly recent phenomenon, mostly among teenagers and young adults, which
involved smoking flavoured e-cigarettes with nicotine oils and more recently
marijuana oils.

The Ministry advised that particularly minors, pregnant women and
persons who have never smoked should avoid the practice since they were at
increased risks of adverse outcomes, including respiratory illnesses.

Those persons who vaped were warned against using home-made
solutions, and the Ministry also made it clear that it did not recommend that
e-cigarettes should be used as a stop-smoking aid.

The Health Services (Smoking Regulations) 2017 defines electronic
smoking devices as tobacco products for the purposes of restricting marketing,
restricting sales to minors and forbidding their use in public spaces, as
defined in the regulations.

In the more than 450 cases so far confirmed in the United States,
respiratory symptoms include cough, difficulty breathing and chest pain, while
the gastrointestinal symptoms have been identified as nausea, vomiting and
diarrhoea. The non-specific symptoms being experienced include fever and
fatigue.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness will be issuing guidelines to
healthcare providers summarizing the situation and sharing the local case
definition for surveillance purposes.

Hospitals and urgent care providers are also being asked to enquire about vaping in cases of significant respiratory distress.

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