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The people who cared for a COVID-19 patient: How a single case was handled – Oak Bay News

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The call came in on an afternoon in March: a patient at a medical clinic in Vancouver complained of chest pains.

Paramedic Jeffrey Booton watched the details flash across the screen as he and his partner made their way to the clinic.

It was his first potential case of COVID-19 and he felt both trepidation and a sense of duty.

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“I see this job as working in the service of people. And getting to do so in the context of a pandemic is obviously wrought with fear and apprehension some days, but it’s work that still resonates with me,” he said.

When Booton arrived, he put on protective gloves, a fluid-repellent gown, N-95 mask and face shield over his freshly buzzed dark hair — an at-home haircut that turned out shorter than planned.

After a physical exam, they got back in the ambulance and Booton did what he always tries to do: comfort the patient. Paramedics see people during what can be pivotal personal moments and Booton felt the weight of the patient’s worry. As they travelled together towards St. Paul’s Hospital, he told the patient what he could expect in the emergency department and what types of tests he might undergo.

“I can only imagine what he was feeling in that moment, but it must have felt like a true sense of vulnerability to what uncertainty lay ahead,” Booton said.

Booton was one of at least 125 health workers, ranging from dispatchers and nurses to hospital housekeepers, who cared for the patient.

On that day, the patient was among 55 identified by dispatchers as possible COVID-19 cases in Vancouver.

Since the pandemic began, more than 50,000 people in Canada have tested positive for the new coronavirus, and federal government figures say at least 2,900 people have been hospitalized.

This is the story of those who cared for a single case at St. Paul’s.

In the emergency department

Dr. Shannon O’Donnell knew she had only a few minutes to prepare after paramedics phoned the hospital to warn that a suspected COVID-19 case was on the way.

“I was a little anxious,” she said. “We don’t know what we’re getting, how much distress a patient is going to be in or how sick they’ll be. And you know, you’re worried also about being exposed to infection.”

The department had been eerily quiet after beds were vacated and the workflow was overhauled to make room for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases, O’Donnell said. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recently announced the province has been able to control the spread of the virus, but the caseload was still growing when the patient arrived.

The paramedics brought the patient directly into a negative pressure room set up for high-risk cases. Glass walls allow for filtration changes to reduce the risk of the virus spreading by air.

Like everyone the patient would interact with, O’Donnell examined him through a heavy armour of personal protective equipment. He was one of the sicker patients she’d seen.

“What was most striking to me was that he did require oxygen, but he also had a very high respiratory rate. He was breathing 30 breaths per minute, whereas you or I would breathe 15 or 16 breaths per minute,” she said.

COVID-19 has transformed not only the hospital but O’Donnell’s home life, too. She and her husband, also an emergency doctor, juggle the full-time care of their three children at home since schools closed.

Together, they decided that if there were a major outbreak, one would work at the hospital and self-isolate from the family, while the other would care for the kids.

“My husband likened it to both of us running into a burning building at the same time.”

O’Donnell ordered blood work, chest X-rays and an electrocardiogram scan, and conducted a chest ultrasound with the help of registered nurse Rachel Mrdeza.

For Mrdeza, some of the hardest cases have been the older patients who arrive incredibly short of breath, with a fever and chest tightness. Emergency department workers don’t typically learn if patients have COVID-19 because the test results come back after they move on from their care, but there can be strong evidence of the virus.

“You know they’re in the window of vulnerability for having quite a dire outcome from COVID. That is really hard to see,” she said.

Under normal circumstances, the emergency doctor would work with several nurses but only one is allowed in the isolation room at a time to protect against contagion.

By the time QianQian Wu began her night shift, she was only the third nurse to see the patient.

Despite the promising case numbers in B.C., Wu said staff don’t feel like they can relax. St. Paul’s Hospital is the main treatment centre for vulnerable residents on the city’s Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood that faces another public health emergency from the overdose crisis.

Wu began her shift by putting on the uncomfortable protective gear that she would wear all night. She tries to stay hydrated before work because she knows she can’t drink water with the mask on.

“It’s a little hard to breath sometimes,” she said. “And sometimes you get sleepy with it on for a long time, it’s very warm.”

Wu took the patient’s vitals and talked to him about his family and friends. She also noticed his laboured breathing.

The testing process

While the patient waited in the emergency department, blood samples and swabs were sent to the hospital’s laboratory.

Dr. Marc Romney, medical director of medical microbiology and virology, said manual molecular testing for COVID-19 typically requires five to 10 lab staff.

“It’s not like a pregnancy test you get from London Drugs, it’s much more complicated,” Romney said.

A porter transports the specimen, a technologist reviews whether it was ordered and labelled properly, then two or three technologists conduct a multistep process involving the extraction, purification, amplification and detection of the virus’s genetic material. A senior technologist and one or two physicians review the results before they are sent back to the attending physician and infection control team.

But the virology lab was transformed by the arrival of a machine in March that automates part of the process.

The Roche cobas 6800 system was adapted from HIV testing and lifted the lab’s theoretical capacity up to 2,000 tests per day, in combination with manual testing.

WATCH: New COVID-19 testing machine takes load off B.C.’s virologists and labs

Romney excitedly talks about the changes and ideas they’ve come up with to deal with the pandemic.

“One of the machines that’s called an extractor, we had to be creative to bring it into the lab because we didn’t have a lot of capital dollars to do it, so we basically bought it off the internet second hand,” he said.

“We’re under tremendous pressure to deliver, it’s been a challenging time. But we’re pleased.”

It has also come at personal cost.

One technologist was basically living in the lab and sleeping only five hours a night.

Romney went weeks without a day off and didn’t see anyone in person beyond his immediate family and colleagues.

When 19 positive tests came back in a single day, another doctor “basically ran from her home” to the hospital to start communicating the results to doctors, public health officials and others who required the information, Romney said.

“The front-line workers are amazing, and we are here to support them but I think it’s good for people to know there are also a lot of people behind the scenes working on this too,” he said.

“It’s not just machines that are being plugged into walls, it’s very human what we do here.”

Romney said the lab staff are mindful that time is critical in fighting the virus.

“It’s a sacrifice but we understand the importance of what we’re doing and there’s kind of a window of opportunity to try and contain the virus. Part of that is testing.”

The transition team

More severe suspected COVID-19 cases are sent to the intensive care unit for isolation. Back in the emergency department, Dr. O’Donnell called Dr. Mathieu Surprenant for an assessment while they awaited test results.

The 29-year-old clinical associate put plans to move back to Montreal on hold when the pandemic struck. Moving in with other doctors seemed too risky, so Surprenant remained in his nearly empty apartment in B.C. on an extended lease.

“I’m sleeping on my inflatable mattress and I’m trying not see anybody,” he said, laughing.

“It’s been very lonely because when I’m not working, I’m not doing anything.”

When he got the call from emergency, Surprenant headed downstairs with resident Dr. Charles Yang.

This wasn’t the hospital’s first suspected COVID-19 case and Yang found himself wondering if it would follow the same trajectory as others.

“In my mind I was wondering, OK what are the precautions I need to take in order to protect myself and other patients while maintaining the level of care I would typically provide for a patient,” Yang said.

He thought of his fiancee at home and whether he would be putting her at risk.

The team examined the patient to develop his care plan. They looked at his oxygen levels and also at the patient himself. Did he look comfortable? Was he struggling?

“What we’re sort of afraid of is that they reach a certain point where they’re able to compensate with their own physiology and eventually just tucker out and decline at a rapid pace,” Yang said.

A crash intubation would be risky for staff because of the time it takes to put on protective equipment, and a chaotic rush into an isolation room could spread the infection. A care plan puts everything in place for a controlled intubation, if a patient appears likely to decline.

The team talked it over and the patient was transferred to the ICU for monitoring overnight.

But it wasn’t long before his oxygen levels began to concern Surprenant.

Best practices change rapidly as new information becomes available about the new coronavirus, the doctor said.

Initially, for example, the idea was to intubate as soon as possible because if a patient gets too ill, his chance of dying on a ventilator increases. But intubation is also more invasive than other procedures and risky for health workers because it pushes droplets of the virus into the air.

Since the pandemic began, recommendations have relaxed to allow for other treatments first but it’s a constantly moving target, Surprenant said.

He believed the patient had reached the stage where intubation was his best chance at survival.

Making that call meant calling in a group dubbed the COVID airway team. Early in the pandemic, the experts in both airway management and donning and doffing specialized protective gear waited on call in a hotel across the street.

“Just dressing takes between five and 10 minutes,” Surprenant said. “They look like astronauts with all the layers.”

The COVID airway team

Anesthesiologist Dr. Shannon Lockhart was part of the planning group that conceived of the COVID airway team.

The cancellation of elective surgeries meant the traditional workload for Lockhart and her colleagues would be lighter. Their idea was to form teams with respiratory therapists to perform intubations so that emergency and ICU doctors wouldn’t expose themselves to the high-risk procedure.

Anesthesiologists self-selected into one of three groups: The first wave was ready to start serving on the COVID airway team immediately. The second would step in if the first wave got sick. And the third would not participate because they or their loved ones were at risk of serious illness if exposed to the virus.

For Lockhart, the decision to be part of the first group, known as the “green team,” was easy. The hard part was creating a plan that would call on others to face the same risk.

“I’m 35 years old, I’m young and healthy. I have a family who is young and healthy, so the personal risk was pretty low for me,” she said.

“More challenging for me was identifying this was a useful model for our group, who are my colleagues and friends, and thereby potentially offering the services of people and putting them at higher risk.”

The uptake was good, however. She was among 16 who volunteered for the green team, making it viable.

When Lockhart was called to intubate the patient, she was ready.

“He fit the story of what you hear about COVID patients who look really well from the bedside, but their numbers don’t look that great,” she said.

Putting a breathing tube down a patient’s throat under normal circumstances takes between five and six minutes, she said.

That time frame has ballooned to between 60 and 90 minutes dealing with the extra protective gear, preparing every possible material you could need in isolation, and the cleaning or disposal of everything in the room.

Dressing feels like a race when someone is struggling to breathe. Once inside, the urgency to clear the airway is intensified by the heat the suit produces.

“The longer we’re in the room, the hotter we get and the foggier our eye protection becomes,” Lockhart said.

Lockhart and a respiratory therapist gave the patient a sedative and paralytic, and inserted the breathing tube while another anesthesiologist waited outside as backup.

Working with different colleagues in an unfamiliar setting wearing cumbersome new equipment is stressful, Lockhart said. But she’s been heartened to watch hospital staff quickly respond and break down silos in which they typically operate.

After intubating the patient, the riskiest part of Lockhart’s new job is doffing her gear.

As the patient relies on strangers for care, Lockhart too relies on someone she barely knows for her own protection. She and the respiratory therapist watch one another carefully as they remove the equipment piece by piece, monitoring for any slip that would allow contamination.

“It’s kind of an interesting position to be in when you’re trusting this person with this very important task but you may never have met them before.”

Inside the intensive care unit

When Dr. Gavin Tansley met the patient, he was already sedated and breathing through a ventilator.

Tansley had given the OK for intubation when Surprenant woke him up with a phone call. He was already familiar with the patient’s case.

Where possible, ICU staff keep an eye on patients they might inherit from other departments, said Tansley, a general surgeon training in critical care. They ask themselves, if things get worse, what would we do?

In the ICU, the acute focus on ventilation shifts to the more holistic care of all the patient’s major organ systems.

“Critical illness is a bit of a funny thing where you really do recognize how intertwined all of these organ systems are,” Tansley said.

“With COVID in particular we see very familiar patterns where often times the kidneys won’t be working 100 per cent, sometimes the heart won’t be working 100 per cent. So, we need to support those organs with other medications or sometimes we need to add dialysis or additional interventions to optimize things as best we can while the body tries to deal with that virus.”

When Tansley decided to become a doctor, he wanted to help people heal. He didn’t realize then that in the ICU, he wouldn’t get to know his patients very well.

“Very often by the time I meet patients, they’re already sedated or on a ventilator or so sick that they can’t talk to you. So, your relationship becomes with the family, and you develop amazing relationships,” he said.

Reflecting on the case, Tansley said it reinforced some recent thoughts he’s had about critical illness that don’t get discussed. So much focus is on the patients, but their families are often experiencing trauma.

“Conversations we’ve had with this particular family reinforced that he was very, very cared for within this family and they were very much struggling with the fact that he was unwell.”

Being unable to visit their loved ones during the pandemic has added an extra layer of grief, he said.

It has been hard for staff to keep families from their loved ones, but they are finding ways to help them connect. Tansley sets aside time to phone them with updates. Nurses hold iPads up to patients so their families can at least see them on video.

Whatever they try, it’s not the same as being able to hold a loved one or even sit with them. The grief can add an extra layer of emotional stress for health workers as well.

“It’s just one of the many ways the coronavirus has changed the way we have to practise medicine.”

A look at the recovery

By the time the patient reached the ICU, about 25 health workers had already played a role in his case. Some interacted with him directly, while others played important but indirect roles in his care, ranging from hospital housekeepers to X-ray technologists.

About 90 intensive care staff saw him, and from there, he would be turned over to a general medicine team.

Recovery is a long road involving a wide network of specialists from dieticians to speech pathologists and social workers. Behind the scenes, hospital administrators, education and outreach teams also do their part.

Kevin Novakowski is a respiratory therapist and in his 28 years of work, he’s never felt an illness create such a constant psychological burden.

“It’s changed me in a way,” he said. “It’s kind of always on my mind.”

In recovery, a patient begins physiotherapy to build his strength. Novakowski is there monitoring how it affects his breathing.

It can take weeks to months, and some never fully recover. Between 30 and 60 per cent of survivors of critical illness have ongoing medical or mental health issues, said Dr. Del Dorscheid, who oversees the ICU as an attending physician. That can mean residual lung disease for COVID-19 survivors, whom he said may receive intensive care for a week or more than a month.

But the first major step toward independence is weaning a patient off the ventilator.

As Novakowski monitored the patient, he began reducing the ventilator’s power and gave him short trials without it.

“You’re looking at their breathing and watching them and focusing on how their muscles look. Are they struggling for air, are they taking deep breaths, are they breathing fast, are they breathing shallow?” he said.

Weaning is a gradual process, like an ebbing tide. Off the ventilator, a patient’s breath rattles.

“They cough and they sputter,” he said.

The rattle may disappear then return when they stand for the first time, or when they start walking.

It’s a stressful process for patients. If they don’t keep coughing to clear their airway, infections can return.

During those first trials, Novakowski waits and listens.

“You listen to them breathing,” he said. “And then all of a sudden, it’s just kind of really quiet and their breathing just sounds like our breathing, normal.

“And you think, OK. That’s good.”

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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Public Health Agency urges everyone to get their measles vaccines – CJWW

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The Public Health Agency of Canada is urging everyone to make sure they have their two doses of measles vaccine, especially before travelling. Global health authorities are reporting there was a significant increase in measles last year, and it continues to rise this year, due in part to a decline in measles vaccinations during the pandemic.

A news release from the Public Health Agency says measles is a highly contagious airborne virus that can cause serious disease. Anyone who is travelling internationally and isn’t vaccinated is at risk of being infected. There is a travel health notice for measles in all countries right now.

Symptoms of measles include fever, red watery eyes, runny nose, and cough followed by a red rash that starts on the face and then moves to the rest of the body. As of February 10th, there have been four cases of measles in the country.

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Kingston-area avian influenza confirmed as highly pathogenic variant – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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Dead bald eagle in Kingston tested positive for the virus

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As avian influenza continues to affect local wild bird populations, a Napanee wildlife centre has confirmed that the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) variant of avian influenza has been identified in the Kingston region.

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According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the HPAI virus, also known as H5N1, was first discovered in Canada in 2021 and has since been found in wild birds in every province and territory.

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Leah Birmingham said Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre received confirmation from the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) that the highly pathogenic version of the avian influenza virus has not only been discovered in dead Canada geese from Kingston, but also other scavenger species as well.

“They’ve now found it in a raven, a crow and (a bald) eagle,” Birmingham said on Friday. “That makes sense, because all of those birds would potentially feed off of the carcasses of dead Canada geese.”

Last week, Sandy Pines received four crows from Kingston showing neurological symptoms.

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“That’s often what you see,” she said. “The water birds typically show a variety of signs of a flu-like disease. But the birds that eat them seem to have more of the neurological signs, like seizures, and less of the upper respiratory ailments.”

In an interview earlier in February, Birmingham told the Whig-Standard that birds showing signs of the virus were being humanely euthanized to limit the risk of spread among the birds who live at or are being rehabilitated at the wildlife centre.

Birmingham said the centre has been sending bird carcasses to the CWHC for viral identification, but lately they’ve been told to stop.

“We’ve already shown positives in the scavenger species essentially,” Birmingham said. “So we know it’s in those bird populations as well.”

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But otherwise, Birmingham said that calls to the wildlife centre about sick birds are on the decline.

“The situation has died down a bit, and it’s just sort of in patches now, not the same intensity,” she said. “That’s a good sign.”

Still, it’s been a record-breaking year in the Kingston region for the virus, Birmingham said.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health told the Whig-Standard on Friday that as of Feb. 22, 12 birds had tested positive for avian influenza in the region, according to a summary report from the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Of those positive tests, eight of the birds were geese, three were crows and one was an eagle.

It’s not clear how many of those tested positive for the highly pathogenic variant.

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The CFIA, which monitors the spread of HPAI with a careful eye to Canada’s poultry industry, keeps a dashboard of active investigations and positive test results from across the country.

Since the end of January, five active outbreaks are under investigation in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Quebec.

Max Kaiser, a commercial egg farmer in Greater Napanee, said he treats every wild bird on his property as if it were infected, taking precautions to protect his commercial flocks.

An infection within a commercial poultry flock can take an extreme financial toll on farmers.

“We take every precaution to keep everything out of the barn, whether it’s changing footwear, changing clothes, disinfecting tools, everything we can do to keep our barns clean from whatever’s outside,” he told the Whig-Standard on Friday. “That could be walking through bird droppings in the barnyards, to wild birds perching on the rooftop. It’s concerning at every level.”

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While Kaiser isn’t losing sleep over the presence of HPAI in the region, and while biosecurity measures are standard practice at Ontario poultry farms, he is taking extra precautions.

“It’s just diligence. Changing footwear is a simple one, but then when our suppliers, like our feed truck and the delivery vehicles, come and go from the barnyard, they have to disinfect, too, even the tires on the trucks as they come up the laneway,” he said.

Kaiser Lake Farms’ egg operation is located on the shores of Hay Bay, an inlet of Lake Ontario.

“Migratory birds are starting to migrate north again, so we’re ramping up,” Kaiser said. “I’m seeing geese in the fields now that weren’t there a week ago. Now that we’re seeing them, we’re back up to full precautions.”

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The Feather Board Command Centre, an organization that provides up-to-date information to Ontario poultry industry members about health risks to commercial bird populations, is recommending heightened biosecurity measures on all of the province’s poultry farms as HPAI moves across the country.

“Currently there are 37 active HPAI cases in Canadian provinces, affecting over 11 million birds,” it said in a news release on Feb. 2. “With the unseasonably warmer weather we have been experiencing, wild birds continue to be on the move and we are seeing increases in wild bird die-offs, increasing the potential risk of disease transmission.”

While HPAI has not been observed to infect humans, some mammals have tested positive for the virus, including raccoons, striped skunks, red foxes, cats and dogs, the CFIA stated on its website.

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“While HPAI is primarily a disease of birds, it can also infect mammals, especially those who hunt, scavenge or otherwise consume infected birds,” the agency wrote. “For example, cats that go outdoors may hunt and consume an infected bird, or dogs may scavenge dead birds. In 2023, a dog in Canada was infected with avian influenza after chewing on a wild goose, and died after developing clinical signs.”

KFL&A Public Health recommends on its website that people who discover dead birds on their property wear protective gear while handling bird carcasses, and either bury the bird at a minimum of one metre deep, or double bag and dispose of the carcass in the garbage. Those who discover a dead bird on public property should contact their municipality, the organization said.

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Birmingham said people should try, if they can, to bury the carcasses. This prevents the spread of the virus among other animal populations, as well as protect domestic pets that may come in contact with a dead bird.

Still, with its potential threat to both wild birds and commercial operations, Birmingham is urging people not to panic abut the virus.

“I don’t want the public to freak out about all wild birds,” she admitted. “There are all kinds of diseases that wildlife can be the reservoir for and carry. Some of them are manmade because of people bringing animals from one continent to another. And others happen naturally, because of high-density populations of animals … in a way this is nature’s way of sort of taking care of dense populations of animals, right?

“I just don’t want people to be so petrified that their dog or cat is going to get this virus because there were crows in their backyards. It’s not that simple.”

mbalogh@postmedia.com

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Interior Health concerned by rate of youth vaping – Arrow Lakes News

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Vaping has replaced smoking amongst South Cariboo teens.

These days it’s more common to see young people sneak a hit of their vape rather than light up a cigarette. It’s a trend that worries health professionals like Nicole Hargreaves and Jered Dennis, two of Interior Health’s Legal Substance Reduction coordinators.

“Really what we’ve seen in recent years is there has been an inverse relationship with smoking cigarettes, or commercial tobacco use, to vaping use. As cigarette use has been going down in communities, especially among youth, we’ve seen an uptick in vaping use among teens,” Hargreaves said.

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Substance reduction co-ordinators are responsible for monitoring the use and abuse of legal substances such as alcohol, cannabis, cigarettes and vape products. They take a “population-level health approach” Hargreaves explained and support several programs across the region aimed at reducing cannabis, alcohol and nicotine use. Nicotine use especially has been on the rise in recent years thanks to vapes.

The 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey found that 36 per cent of youth in the Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap region had vaped within the last 30 days. While it’s just an educated guess, Dennis said it’s likely vape usage has increased since then. He noted that IH expects to have more up-to-date numbers within the next few weeks following the release of a new survey.

There are a variety of reasons why vapes have become the preferred substance among teens, Hargreaves explained. This includes how easy vapes are to conceal, peer pressure, the stress of everyday life and how normalized it’s been among teens in recent years.

One of the biggest factors, however, is the fact vaping has been perceived as less harmful than traditional tobacco products. Vape companies such as JUUL originally sold their product as a smoking cessation tool.

While vapes are better for smokers than cigarettes, they also became a way to hook a whole new generation on nicotine. Due to how relatively new vaping is, Dennis said doctors don’t truly know what potential health risks could emerge, especially among those who adopted the practice young. He did note however vapes can contain heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals.

“There is this misconception that vapor products just contain water and that’s absolutely not the case. We know that water vapour contains a variety of different toxic chemicals that are inhaled through the lungs and mouth and then absorbed into the bloodstream,” Hargreaves said. “When that happens the chemicals enter your brain and organs through the blood and can have a really significant impact on adolescent brain development.”

Hargreaves said these effects can manifest themselves as impulsiveness, difficulties learning and paying attention and dependency. Nicotine itself is highly addictive and youth are most susceptible to becoming addicted.

Dennis pointed out that the human brain and lungs aren’t fully developed until the mid-twenties. When you introduce foreign substances to them while they’re still developing they can have a far more detrimental effect than they would on an adult.

“I’m not saying (vaping is) harmless for an adult, but there’s a greater risk of harm for a young person because they’re still in that developmental stage,” Dennis said. “We don’t know what the long-term impacts of vaping are, so we’re trying to play catch up to identify the burdens on health.”

Vapes can only be sold if they contain nicotine or cannabis, with a limit of 20 milligrams of nicotine per one millimeter of vape juice. When sold at a vape shop or convenience store they can only be sold to adults over the age of 19.

Dennis said that typically youth report they obtain vapes via an adult whether they be a friend, an older sibling or even their parents. Online sales have also become a significant way for teens to acquire vapes. The Tobacco and Vapour Act regulates online sales and requires the company delivering the items to verify the purchaser’s age.

According to a test done by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Dennis said Canada Post is most effective at confirming customer’s ages. However, some of the other delivery services were not found to be as diligent.

One of the best ways to reduce youth vape use, Dennis said, would be to ban flavored vape products. Vape shops can still sell vapes flavoured like fruits and candies and he believes if they could only sell methanol or tobacco-flavoured products, like gas stations, use among youth would decline.

“Some of the common reasons why youth vape are flavours. Flavours are a significant appealing factor to youth vaping and I would suggest if the only flavours were tobacco flavour, we would reduce vaping rates,” Dennis said. “I firmly believe that. It’s an intervention or strategy that could be put in place that would significantly impact youth vaping rates.”

If you’re looking to help a teenager quit vaping, Dennis said you should initiate conversations with them about the habit. By talking to them about the risks associated with vaping from a place of education, not fear, you can delve into why they’re vaping and give them the support they need to quit. Hargreaves added that it doesn’t just take a one-off conversation, but instead an ongoing dialogue.

Dennis also recommends people looking to quit make use of the BC PharmaCare’s Smoking Cessation Program which provides everyone 12 weeks of free Nicorette patches and other smoking cessation tools. Youth can also download Quash, an app designed to help them reduce their use of vapes by allowing them to way the pros and cons of the habit.

“We often talk about quitting now, but even the reduction of the quantity and frequency of vaping products is a significant movement towards reducing the harm,” Dennis said. “Instead of hitting a vape five times in an hour, try to hit it once an hour. When you inhale the vape try not to inhale a huge amount of the aerosol.”

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