A sixth person has died from a mysterious lung ailment linked to vaping that has sickened 450 people across 33 states and one territory, the Washington Post reported. The latest death was reported Tuesday by Kansas health officials.
The person who died was older than 50, and had a history of underlying health issues. The patient was admitted to the hospital after suffering rapidly progressing symptoms of respiratory illness. Officials did not say what types of vaping products the patient had used. It remains unclear whether a particular device brand or liquid is to blame, though many patients reported using vape juices that contained cannabinoid products, like THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Authorities are possibly closing in on contaminants or counterfeit substances as the likely culprit. S`ome say that vitamin E acetate, the oil derived from vitamin E, may be the cause, as it was found in nearly all cannabis samples from patients who were sickened in New York.
New York state reported that it was subpoenaing three companies identified as selling thickening agents that contain high levels of vitamin E. They say illicit dealers may have used the product to dilute THC oil.
The first respiratory illness-related death linked to vaping was reported by Illinois health officials on Aug. 23. Two weeks later, Oregon reported a second death linked to vaping, which had occurred in July. Other vape-linked fatalities have been reported in Indiana, Minnesota and Los Angeles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging consumers not to buy vaping products off the street and not to modify them. Other health officials are cautioning against vaping altogether.