NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of lung injuries linked to black market vaping liquids nearly doubled from last week.
As of Friday (Sept. 6), there were 450 reported cases nationwide, including some in Louisiana.
Recent reports reveal there may be a possible link between contaminants in marijuana vaping products to the illnesses.
Dr. Edward Trapido with the LSU Health School of Public Health said the situation is alarming.
“It’s very concerning that they’re starting here. These are among largely healthy people who suddenly end up in the emergency room, so it’s very frightening,” Trapido said.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, Assistant State Health Officer at Louisiana Department of Health said the number of patients is rising, increasing from nine cases to 11 Friday.
“In Louisiana over the past few weeks, we’ve seen nine cases, and those numbers we anticipate to go up a little bit,” Kanter said.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigators recently collected samples from patients who fell ill, and found cannabis oils derived from Vitamin E.
“There’s some theories out there. There’s theories that it might be a contaminant in the vaping product, there’s a theory that it might be a substrate of Vitamin E, but at the moment, those are just theories, and the investigation is ongoing,” Kanter said.
"It's this additive that we don't know what it consists of and what it does," Trapido said.
They do know what some of the symptoms are---patients reported shortness of breath, fever, coughing and some gastrointestinal symptoms.
Some vape store owners, like Joe Gerrity of Crescent City Vape, said they’ve gotten a lot of concerned customers since the reports.
“All we can do is reassure them that the products we sell here are FDA approved and they are legal for sale sale in the State of Louisiana, and we have been selling them for a long time without issue,” Gerrity said.
Gerrity said they go through safety protocols to make sure what's on their shelves, is safe.
“We carry FDA-approved products, we do third party testing on a lot of our stuff, and frankly, we’ve been buying from companies that have been in the industry for years and not had any of these issues,” Gerrity said.
For now, health experts say they're keeping a close eye on the cases, especially if they continue to increase.
"For folks who might be using e-cigarettes or vaping products, if you develop respiratory symptoms or severe coughs, severe shortness of breath, please go in and get checked and please make sure they know that you were using the products," Kanter said.
Kanter said they will work closely with the CDC to investigate the exact cause of these illnesses.