Off-the-street cannabis oils may be linked to rise in one lung disease, according to health officials

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KINGS COUNTY, California — An alarming trend is sending vapers straight to the hospital. The Kings County Department of Public Health has seen a rise in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, or ARDS, and in all cases the vapers used cannabis oils brought from the street.

Overall, there have been eight cases since June: four from Fresno County, three from Kings County, and one from Tulare County. The most recent case was identified on Tuesday.

Nancy Gerking, the department’s assistant director of public health, said these cases are a warning to know where your vaping products come from. She said more people have been buying cannabis oils from streetside pop-up shops.

“We don’t know what in the products from the pop-up shops, it’s a roll of the dice for them,” Gerking said.

Seven patients are being treated at Adventist Health Hanford, with the last one being treated at Adventist Health Selma.

“We have patients that have so severe [conditions] that they’ve been admitted to the ICU and were put on mechanical devices to help their breathing,” Gerking said.

Kings County has found similarities in the local cases with what’s being reported in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. In those states, more than 20 teens are said to have serious lung damage — and are said to also have used off-the-street oils.

ARDS symptoms include feeling like you can’t get enough air into your lungs, low blood pressure, low blood oxygen level and extreme tiredness.

“If you feel any of these symptoms, please get immediate assistance,” Gerking said.

Gerking adds Kings County has partnered up with the California Department of Public Health. The county has sent the state agency samples and is awaiting results.

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