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PHS Monday Seminar- Ian Pray, PhD, MPH: Early response to a multi-state outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (evali) — Wisconsin, 2019
February 3, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health
During July 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) was alerted to a series of severe respiratory illnesses among previously healthy teenagers who all reported using e-cigarette products, or vaping, prior to their illnesses. These reports turned out to be just the beginning of a public health crisis that would sicken over 2,500 people across the U.S. and over 100 people in Wisconsin. Efforts to interview patients about their vaping practices and test vaping product ultimately led to the conclusion that vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent used in illicit-market THC products, was the most likely culprit of the outbreak. As the first state to investigate cases of vaping-associated lung injury, Wisconsin had a unique role in describing the outbreak, shedding light on the possible causes, and developing the methods and communication strategies to address this high-profile and novel public health threat.
Dr. Pray received his PhD in epidemiology in 2019 from Oregon Health and Science University, where he studied transmission of cysticercosis in Peru. He is also a former Peace Corps volunteer and Fulbright scholar with interests in global health. After being selected for the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), he was assigned to the Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. Soon after starting the EIS fellowship, Dr. Pray began investigating the U.S. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products, which was first detected in Wisconsin and Illinois. In September 2019, he and colleagues published a preliminary report in the New England Journal of Medicine.