Mysterious vaping illness outbreak grows to nearly 1,300 cases and 26 deaths

Health officials in US are urging people not to vape as exact cause of illness remains a mystery

Denise Grady
Friday 11 October 2019 16:19
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The first vaping related death was reported on August 23 in Illinois
The first vaping related death was reported on August 23 in Illinois

The outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping grew by more than 200 cases in a week, now totalling 1,299, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.

Twenty-six people have died from vaping-related illnesses, health officials said.

The figures mean that 219 new cases were reported. Cases have occurred in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands.

A 17-year-old boy died in the Bronx, New York, last week, the youngest death so far linked to vaping. Utah and Massachusetts officials confirmed their states’ first vaping deaths this week. Indiana health officials announced late on Thursday that two more people had died.

The ages of those who died range from 17 years to 75 years, with a median of 49.

The exact cause of the illness is still unknown. Many of those who became ill had vaped THC, some had used both THC and nicotine, and others reported vaping only nicotine.

US federal and state health authorities are testing vaping materials and studying tissue samples from patients in an effort to find the cause of the outbreak. They are particularly concerned about the huge amount of illicit THC products in circulation, which contain unknown mixtures of solvents, diluting agents and flavourings that may be toxic to the lungs.

The US Army said it was treating two soldiers for vaping-related illness. It did not say what products the two soldiers had been using, according to an earlier report in The Wall Street Journal.

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The country’s health officials are urging the public not to vape and emphasising that those who choose to do so anyway should avoid THC, especially products sold on the street or the internet.

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