The outbreak of U.S. vaping-related illnesses has surpassed 1,000 cases, including 18 deaths nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Most patients report a history of using THC-containing products.
The eighteen deaths have been confirmed in 15 states: Alabama, California (2), Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas (2), Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon (2), and Virginia.
The median age of deceased patients was 49.5 years and the range was from 27-71 years.
The CDC has data on age and sex for 889 patients, which revealed that 70 percent of patients are male, the patients’ median age is 23 years and ranges from 13-75 years, and 81 percent of patients are under 35 years old.
“No single product or substance has been linked to all lung injury cases."
The first illnesses occurred in late March, and 1,080 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 48 states. Recently, 200 or more cases have been reported each week. Only Alaska and New Hampshire have yet to report cases.
The latest national and regional findings, including a CDC report from Friday, Sept. 27, suggest products containing THC - which is the ingredient that gives marijuana its high - play a role in the outbreak.
Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain.
“No single product or substance has been linked to all lung injury cases,” according to the CDC, and the agency acknowledges that the “specific chemical exposure(s) causing lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, remains unknown at this time.”
The CDC highlighted that the vaping products people use can have a mix of ingredients and include potentially illicit substances
“Users may not know what is in their e-cigarette or e-liquid solutions. Many of the products and substances can be modified by suppliers or users. They can be obtained from stores, online retailers, from informal sources (e.g. friends, family members), or “off the street,” the report states.
States including New York and Massachusetts have enacted bans of the sale of vaping products. Those policies are being challenged in court by vaping store owners and a national group, the Vapor Technology Association, which claims banning the products will not make them safer since it would lead people to the black market.
The CDC is working to identify through partnerships with states and other federal agencies to find the causes of this vaping-related illness, and it “activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate activities and provide assistance to states, public health partners and clinicians around the nation.”