Lung Disease and Vaping Investigation

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local health departments are investigating a cluster of people with severe lung disease who all reported recent vaping.

For the latest case counts, visit our Outbreaks and Investigations webpage.

  • Age. Most patients are adolescents and young adults, but some patients are adults in older age groups.
  • Symptoms. Patients often have a range of initial symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss.
  • Severity. The majority of patients went on to develop severe breathing problems requiring hospitalization, and in some cases, had to be put on ventilators in order to breathe.
  • Deaths. No deaths have been reported in Wisconsin.
  • Geography. Counties with cases include: Adams, Brown, Burnett, Dane, Dodge, Door,  Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Marathon, Milwaukee, Monroe, Outagamie, Pierce, Portage, Racine, Rock, Sauk, Shawano, Sheboygan, St. Croix, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, and Winnebago.

Latest News

For the latest updates on the nationwide outbreak and the latest public health recommendations, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) outbreak webpage.

The majority of cases reported using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to inhale THC-containing products, such as waxes and oils.

  • THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.
  • Vaping cartridges containing THC may contain chemicals or additives that are unknown, unregulated, and unsafe.
  • Among patients who reported vaping THC, a wide variety of brand names and flavorings were reported.
  • We urge the public to avoid vaping any THC products.
  • This is a complex and ongoing investigation, and we are working to gather information about the products used, collect products for testing, and investigate new cases. We will continue to provide updates when new information becomes available.
News releases
  • August 29: Majority of Wisconsin Lung Disease Patients Who Reported Vaping Cite THC Products
  • August 8: Older Age Groups Now Included in Investigation of Lung Disease Among People Who Reported Vaping
  • August 2: New Cases Identified in Investigation of Lung Disease Among Teens and Young Adults Who Reported Vaping

For Health Care and Lab Professionals

We continue to investigate reports of vaping-associated lung injury throughout Wisconsin. The tools below are intended to help clinicians and clinical labs identify, manage, and report possible cases.

Clinical information

Detailed clinical information about vaping-associated lung injury can be found in our clinical fact sheet, P-02503. This guide is intended to help clinicians identify, manage, and treat patients with this condition.

How to report

Patients who present with respiratory and/or gastrointestinal symptoms, have abnormal chest imaging, and have a history vaping in the past 90 days should be reported to your local health department for investigation of possible vaping-associated lung injury.

Please fill out this case report form and return it to your local health department or DHS (see instruction on form). Please also have your patient complete the vaping questionnaire (page 2 of the case report form) and send it back with the attached case report form.

If your patient has e-cigarette or vaping products they are willing to submit for laboratory testing, let them know to fill out the patient vaping survey, and that their local health department will collect these during their investigation.

Submitting clinical specimens

Available clinical specimens collected from patients with possible vaping-associated lung injury should be sent to the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene (WSLH). WSLH is requesting residual samples of the following specimens types for all suspected cases:

  • Lung tissue biopsy
  • Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid
  • Blood/Serum
  • Urine

If one or more of these specimens has been collected from your patient, please encourage your clinical laboratory to send the specimens to WSLH using the following guidance:

Additional resources

Memos
Journal articles

For the Public

In light of the recent outbreak of vaping-associated lung injuries in Wisconsin and across the U.S, we recommend the following:  

  • Do not use e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC.
  • Do not buy any e-cigarette or vaping products, particularly those with THC, from friends, dealers, or other unregulated sources.
  • The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for all ages, including youth and young adults. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm teen brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. If you don't currently use tobacco products, do not start using e-cigarettes or vaping products.
  • There is no safe tobacco product. All tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carry a risk.
  • If you are ready to quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT NOW for free help. There are FDA-approved medications to help you quit.
    • If you are an adult using e-cigarettes or vaping products to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes. 
    • If you are a teen or young adult who is trying to quit nicotine, get resources and support at Smokefree Teen and Truth Initiative    
  • If you are a youth or adult addicted to marijuana, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Treatment Locator to find treatment in your area, or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and you have symptoms like those reported in the outbreak, see your doctor.

For more information, visit the CDC's outbreak webpage

To learn more about vaping and e-cigarettes:

  • Visit Tobacco is Changing to learn more about vaping and e-cigarettes, including how to identify products.
  • Read our public health advisory on vaping and e-cigarettes for additional details on policy solutions and actions for parents, teachers, and health professionals.
Last Revised: November 14, 2019