Rochester’s medical community help spot vape-related illness

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – (WROC) – Rochester’s medical community is playing a key role in developing better ways to spot vape related illness.

Lung injury cases continue to rise across the state and here in Rochester. The medical community is calling it an epidemic. Dr. Nicholas Nacca says many of those are linked to vaping.

“At the University of Rochester we’ve had 19 cases since July and those are the cases that have been admitted to the hospital, said Nacca, a toxicologist at Strong Memorial Hospital. “My feeling is this is the tip of the iceberg.”

But it could be more he says. Because it’s easy to misdiagnose vape-related illness.

“Anytime there is a new diagnosis that’s come out it’s difficult to recognize it,” said Nacca. ” You don’t know what you are looking for.”

One of the major symptoms is often mistaken for pneumonia.

“Just even getting up to go to the bathroom like I can’t breathe,” said Kerri Chonsky, a 21-year-old vaping patient. “Even now I am still recovering, talking too much I get out of breathe. I get winded so easy.”

Besides the shortness of breathe physicians here in Rochester started to notice some unusual symptoms among patients like Chonsky.

“We were surprised at how many patients presented with primary gastrointestinal complaints like abdominal pain, nausea, vomitting, and diarrhea,” said Nacca. “The other thing prominent was fevers.”

By reporting their findings to the New York State Health Department it was discovered patients had vaping in common. Rochester physicians and New York health leaders created a roadmap for doctors to recognize and treat vaping lung illness. Dr. Nacca says this will help decrease the number of missed diagnoses.

“Everybody’s had a look at this and made some edits and made some input,” said Nacca. “So I think the finished product is a really nice starting point for clinicians to address this public health emergency.”

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