As cases of vaping-linked lung illnesses mount to nearly 1,300 in the US, officials still don’t know what in e-cigarettes is making people sick.
But vaping THC is a common thread in 76 percent of the reported illnesses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging all Americans: ‘Do not use e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC.’
It’s a slightly stepped-up warning and comes as early tests of confiscated cartridges and e-liquids found some have THC concentrations as high as 77 percent. On average, they were about 41 percent THC – still twice what’s in a pot plant.
Still, health officials in a Friday media call said they can’t rule out the possibility that nicotine vapes could cause illnesses, as 13 percent of patients said they exclusively used nicotine e-cigarettes.
The one upside to the emergence of so many cases of the disease is that health officials finally have enough information to instruct doctors to use imaging to detect the ‘disease, that they’re now calling “EVALI”.’
Additional vaping deaths have now been confirmed in Texas, Utah and Massachusetts, bringing the national toll to 28 fatalities across 23 states (red) in the US
The newly-coined name stands for ‘e-cigarette- and vaping-associated illnesses’ and describes the lung injuries that almost always begin with a cough or shortness of breath and many feel sick to their stomachs and vomit.
As they’ve gathered this information, two new concerns have emerged. Some patients are being readmitted with respiratory problem, and, with flu and cold season ramping up, officials warn doctors may have to treat for both.
Mysterious vaping illnesses have claimed the lives of 28 people in the US, and nearly 1,300 have severely damaged lungs from e-cigarette use, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures, released Thursday.
The federal agency has confirmed 26 deaths in 21 states, but 23 state health departments have reported the deaths of 28 people as of Thursday – numbers yet to be verified by the CDC.
All but five percent of patients initially had coughs or shortness of breath, and 77 percent had gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea, stomach pain and nausea.
Almost half of the confirmed patients wound up in the ICU, and more than 20 percent of those patients had to be put on ventilators to breathe for them.
The vast majority of patients were started on steroids, and most of those improved.
‘We don’t know how many might have improved without corticosteroids, or if there are negative consequences [of steroids] like worsening infection risks,’ said Dr Anna Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC.
Nonetheless, the agency advises doctors ‘consider’ starting patients on steroids.
The vast majority of the patients – 76 percent – sickened by vaping used THC products, while only 13 percent said they’d used exclusively nicotine vapes.
Investigators are currently focusing on THC e-cigarette products, which are often illegal, adulterated nicotine pods or juices.
In early testing of e-cigarette cartridges and juices, scientists found concentrations between 13 and 77 percent THC in samples that contained the psychoactive compound.
Despite recent biopsy research suggesting it’s toxins, not necessarily oil, that’s damaging EVALI patients’ lungs, US officials are still testing or the previously-suspected vitamin E acetate.
They found the the vitamin derivative in nearly half (47 percent) of the samples, at concentrations ranging from 23 and 88 percent.
They’re also testing e-cigarettes for metals, pesticides and other potential contaminants.
‘We’re going to leave no stone un-turned, but we agree it may well be that there is no
One additional death has been reported each in Texas and Utah, and California and Georgia, bringing their respective death tolls to three and two.
Of the 1,299 people sickened, 80 percent are teenagers or adults under 35.
It’s an alarming statistic that that fans driving a series of state attempts to keep the devices out of teens’ hands.
It’s unclear how many of the sickened teenagers used THC, but 15 percent of the total illnesses reported are among people under 18.
Just over 20 percent of the victims are between 18 and 20, 18 percent are between 21 and 24, 26 percent are in the 25 to 34 range, and 20 percent fall in the oldest bracket, over 35.
For reasons that remain unclear, the lung illnesses have primarily stricken men, who account for 70 percent of the patients, according to the CDC.
Although President Trump announced plans to ban e-cigarettes last month, the federal government has yet to act to stop the steady stream of vaping-related illnesses and death spanning the US.
One person has now died of vaping in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.
Three people have died in California and two in each Oregon, Georgia and Kansas.
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