BEAUMONT, Texas — There are now 173 cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping in Texas. That's up from 147 cases last week.
State health officials say they are still gathering information about 8 other possible cases to determine if they are consistent with the symptoms and substance use seen in Texas and 48 other states.
The most cases in Texas are in North and Southeast Texas, which has seen 37 cases of severe lung disease.
Respiratory symptoms include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and coughing. Some people have also experienced nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
There has been 1,888 cases across the United States. DSHS is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to gather evidence about what, if anything, the cases have in common.
"Until we know more about the cause, people should consider not using e-cigarettes," DSHS said on their website.
The youngest patient with severe lung disease linked to vaping in Texas is 13. The oldest is 75.
DSHS says the average age of those with lung issues is 22 and about one-quarter of patients in Texas are minors.
One common link to these lung illnesses and vaping has been THC or marijuana. In Texas, nine in 10 report vaping THC, possibly in conjunction with other substances. Almost all of those cases required intensive care.
12News Investigators have been digging into the vape crisis. Many schools are looking at new ways to combat the problem among middle and high school students.
"We are trying to be more innovative with our consequences so they can change the behavior," Beaumont United Assistant Principal Dr. Lori Rochelle said.
According to the 2018 Texas Youth Tobacco Survey, 18.9% of high school students and 6% of middle school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, which is on par with national numbers.
Students say the majority of vaping isn't happening on campus.
"I don't see it during school but outside of school most definitely," Beaumont United junior Gissselle Rievas said.
CLICK HERE to see vaping numbers from school districts across Southeast Texas.