What is Known, Unknown About Lung Illnesses Linked to Vaping

October 11, 2019

Government public health officials are continuing to advise people to stop e-cigarette or vaping products, especially with THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an update on the cases of the mysterious illness associated with vaping. They said that they do not yet know the exact substance that may be causing the illness.

According to the CDC, as of Oct. 8, there have 1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory. Twenty-six deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.

All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products and most report a history of using THC-containing products, which various findings suggest are playing a role in the outbreak.

Approximately 70% of patients are male, and 80% of patients are under 35 years old.

What Is Not Known

The agencies said that specific chemical exposure(s) causing lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, remain unknown at this time.

“No single product or substance has been linked to all lung injury cases,” the latest update said. They said more information is needed to know whether one or more e-cigarette or vaping products, substances, or brands is responsible for the outbreak.

E-cigarette, or vaping, products, may have a mix of ingredients and could include potentially illicit substances. “Users may not know what is in their e-cigarette or e-liquid solutions,” the advisory said. “Many of the products and substances can be modified by suppliers or users.”

They noted that products can be obtained from stores, online retailers, from informal sources such as friends and family members), or “off the street.”

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