Emergency department data suggests cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) are declining since peaking in September, but the numbers have not returned to levels before the outbreak began in June 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions “EVALI remains a concern.”
The agency also reiterated its suspicion that vitamin E acetate is likely the cause of the lung injury, based on an analysis of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples from 51 EVALI cases from 16 states, 48 of which tested positive for vitamin E acetate.
The agency also pointed out that certain groups of EVALI patients released from the hospital were found more likely to be re-hospitalized or die, such as those with chronic medical conditions such as cardiac disease, chronic pulmonary disease, and diabetes, as well as older individuals. To minimize the risk of re-hospitalization and death, the CDC is recommending that hospitalized patients be documented as clinically stable for 24 to 48 hours prior to discharge, and have a follow-up visit with a primary care provider or pulmonary specialist within 48 hours of discharge instead of one to two weeks as previously recommended.
As of Dec. 17, 2019, a total of 2,506 people has been hospitalized with EVALI from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands). Fifty-four deaths have been confirmed in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
Data also suggests that there was a gradual rise in emergency department visits associated with vaping since 2017, with a sharp rise in June 2019. Overall, 152 different THC-containing product brands have been reportedly used by patients with EVALI. And while vitamin E acetate appears to be the likely culprit, the CDC cautions that there may be more than one cause.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. On Oct. 7 they also filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts in three states, which seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.