SACRAMENTO -- California is not immune to what seems to be a burgeoning epidemic of lung illnesses or diseases that officials say may be connected to vaping.
At least two people who developed severe respiratory illnesses after vaping have died and there are at least 215 other cases of severe lung disease that may be tied to the activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
California's Department of Public Health reports 44 of those patients are local. Two of those cases have been reported in Stanislaus County and one in Sacramento County.
"Some people have been hospitalized in ICU and being on ventilator, intubated and, ultimately, treated with steroids,” said Sacramento County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Melody Law.
That's because whatever is wrong with the patients is not responding to antibiotics.
Researchers are still looking for the exact culprit but many of those affected had used e-cigarettes or vaping devices.
“They did a biopsy of a lung and they have seen a lipid, which is an oil-containing product, in the lungs,” Dr. Law said. “So they're certainly not bacterial infections."
While using cannabis is legal both medicinally and recreationally in California and people can find ways to vape it everywhere, experts say no one should look at it as if it’s just like nicotine.
"If you're concerned about your health, avoid using any electronic vaping products," Law told FOX40. "Less is known about vaping cannabis oil."
Electronic cigarettes have never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to Law.
If you use these products and are coughing, have painful lungs, vomiting, fever or diarrhea, experts say see your doctor right away.