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Most cases in the Upstate

South Carolina saw its number of vaping-related illnesses double in a week from 12 to 24, with most cases occurring in the Upstate, health officials said Wednesday.

The severe lung illness linked to the use of e-cigarettes has been logged in all regions of the state, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

So far, there have been 14 cases reported in the Upstate, five in the Pee Dee, three in the Lowcountry and two in the Midlands, DHEC reports.

And the doubling in the number of cases statewide is attributed to a growing awareness of the illnesses, Virginie G. Daguise, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, said in a statement.

“Reports of vaping related illness continue to increase nationwide,” she said. “Due to the fact that the reporting of these cases is relatively new, additional case counts may vary greatly from week to week as reporting and awareness increase.”

Nationally, 1,080 cases had been reported by Oct. 1 in 48 states and one U.S. territory, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

That includes 18 deaths in 15 states.

E-cigarettes are devices that heat a flavored liquid, which usually contains highly-addictive nicotine, resulting in an aerosol that’s inhaled — or vaped — by the user, according to CDC.

Symptoms of the illness include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever and weight loss and typically develop over a few days to several weeks with many requiring hospitalization and sometimes ventilators, CDC reports.

Most of the patients reported using products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a psychoactive component of marijuana, according to CDC, which says the latest findings suggest those products play a role in the outbreak.

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About 70% of the patients are male and 80% are younger than 35, CDC reports.

The South Carolina patients range in age from 17 to 69, but most are younger than 35 and are male.

Because little is known about the chemicals in e-cigarettes, health officials advise people to avoid vaping.

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