Investigations of severe vaping-related lung illnesses that broke out in 36 states took on a special urgency Wednesday after a seventh death was reported in connection with the outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has activated its Emergency Operations Center in response to the growing outbreak. Public health officials in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have confirmed 380 cases of the vaping related pulmonary disease.
The seventh person to die from the mysterious lung complications was a 40-year-old man from Tulare County, California. The other deaths were reported in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department confirmed the first vaping-related death in California.
“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “Activation of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center allows us to enhance operations and provide additional support to CDC staff working to protect our Nation from this serious health threat.”
Last week, the Trump administration said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will introduce measures in the coming weeks to “clear the market” of all flavored vape products, which companies like JUUL have used to entice minors. Companies will still be allowed to make and sell tobacco-flavored products, which don’t rank high in popularity among minors.
According to Tulare County public health officer Dr. Karen Haught, the latest California victim had been sick for several weeks after he suffered a “severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping.”
Dr. Haught echoed the advice of other public health officials in warning people that vaping could have devastating and potentially life-threatening consequences.
“The Tulare County Public Health Branch would like to warn all residents that any use of e-cigarettes poses a possible risk to the health of the lungs and can potentially cause severe lung injury that may even lead to death,” Dr. Haught said. “Long-term effects of vaping on health are unknown. Anyone considering vaping should be aware of the serious potential risk associated with vaping,” she said.
The CDC has recommended that people avoid using vaping products of any kind as it continues to investigate the outbreak of lung illnesses. Anyone who continues to vape should avoid buying products off the street or modifying vape products, the agency says.