A youth in London, Ont., was put on life support as a result of a suspected vaping-related illness, local health authorities said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit said that the high school-aged youth had to be temporarily put in the intensive care unit, and has since recovered.
“While we weren’t able to say conclusively that the respiratory illness that occurred in this young person was the result of vaping, there is no other identifiable cause in this case,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, medical officer of health and CEO of MLHU in a statement.
“We know very little about the long-term health effects associated with e-cigarettes, but our findings so far are enough to convince us of the need to advise the public.”
This is Canada’s first reported case of vaping-related illness. There have been seven reported deaths and hundreds of cases in the U.S.
WATCH: Vaping-related deaths reported in U.S.
At the press conference, officials released little information about the case, including keeping the patient’s gender hidden. The individual was using an e-cigarette “at least daily,” Mackie said. While health officials are aware of the brand of vape being used and whether or not the person was vaping a nicotine or cannabis product, they did not wish to disclose it publicly.
“That would imply that this was something coming from one brand, when clearly, looking at the international evidence, that’s not the case,” Mackie said.
Wednesday’s conference came nearly two weeks after Health Canada issued a warning to Canadians that vaping products can carry a risk of pulmonary illness. Health Canada has also previously stated there had been no known vaping-related illness reported in the nation.
Ontario deputy premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott issued a statement on Wednesday in which she indicates she has “become increasingly concerned about the prevalence and possible health consequences of vaping, particularly as they affect our youth.”
The MLHU statement on Wednesday adds that Elliott has issued a minister’s order that “will require public hospitals in Ontario to provide the Chief Medical Officer of Health with statistical, non-identifying information related to incidences of vaping-related severe pulmonary disease.”
In Canada, around 100 people die every day from tobacco smoking-related illness, according to Health Canada. While in the U.K., Mackie said, doctors occasionally prescribe vaping as a way for people to stop smoking, he’s concerned that vaping could lead to smoking among Canadian youth who have never smoked.
“In that situation you’re actually getting people addicted to a product. Then, when they run out of money, because it is very expensive, cigarettes are much cheaper so you start to see that smoking behaviour go up.”
He’s not sure whether this case would be an argument for banning vaping altogether though.
“You can’t make provincial or national policy based on one case, so I wouldn’t say that this is the case that tips in the direction of banning vaping. I think it’s really important to gather information systematically and to make a policy decision at the appropriate level when more information is available.”
WATCH: Is vaping hazardous to your health?
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