Health officials have linked more deaths to a mysterious pulmonary illness apparently caused by vaping, the Washington Post reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are now 450 cases of respiratory illness in 33 states and one territory, including five deaths. A sixth death is currently under investigation with possible ties to vaping.
The numbers of illnesses and deaths tied to vaping seem to increased by the minute since state and federal health officials announced Aug. 19 that they had identified 153 people across 16 states that had been treated for respiratory illnesses that occurred after vaping. Three days later, the CDC reported that the number of those sickened had risen to 193 in 22 states.
The first patient death was announced Aug. 23 by Illinois health officials. On Sept. 4, Oregon officials linked the death of a middle-aged patient in July to vaping. A third death was confirmed Sept. 5 by Indiana health officials. The following day, both Minnesota and Los Angeles reported linking deaths to vaping. All patients suffered acute respiratory injuries.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, told KABC News 7 Los Angeles, “We’re on record as the health department of noting that in fact, e-cigarettes has really set us back years in our struggle to eliminate addiction to nicotine and tobacco products among our young people.”
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not pin-pointed a cause for the illnesses, though testing has identified vitamin E acetate in some samples of cannabis vaping juice as a common denominator.
Some of the earliest and largest numbers of lung illnesses reported came from Wisconsin and Illinois, who issued a joint statement saying, “the severity of the illness and the increase in the incidence of this clinical syndrome indicates that these cases represent a new or newly recognized and worrisome cluster of pulmonary disease related to vaping.”