Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

US vaping illness count tops 500, but cause still unknown

US vaping illness count tops 500, but cause still unknown

Still, health officials said they haven't found a definitive cause or a clear connection between cases, and they warned that patients anxious about becoming ill from vaping should refrain from using e-cigarettes.

Almost three fourths of the cases were reported in men; 67 percent were between ages 18-34; 16 percent are under age 18; and 17 percent are 35 years or older. More than half of these diagnoses have been among people younger than 25, Schuchat said, and 16% have been among those younger than 18. No individual vapers will be targeted, Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

The CDC and various state health departments have reported widespread use of products containing THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance within cannabis, among people who became ill.

There have been vaping-related illnesses in 38 states and one U.S. territory, the CDC said. The deaths were reported in California (2), Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon. Nine are still under investigation, and six reports were investigated and did not meet CDC's case definition.

A Missouri man in his 40s died of a lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarettes earlier this week, the eighth vaping death in the United States and the first death in Missouri, state health officials announced on Thursday afternoon. Almost three-quarters of the cases have been reported among men.

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The CDC has been recommending that people who are concerned about these health risks steer clear of e-cigarettes or vaping products, and no one should be buying them off the street or modifying them in any way. Some affected people used e-cigarette products with THC, while others used nicotine ones or those with both THC and nicotine.

"Identifying any compounds present in the samples is the one piece of the puzzle and will not necessarily answer questions about causality", he said. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

He said the agency's criminal investigators have been on the case from the start, but emphasized that they are not pursuing any prosecutions linked from personal use of any controlled substances.

"Usually it takes decades to cause really significant health effects", she said, noting that it took more than 50 years to detect a health signal from cigarette smoking.

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