- At least 33 people have died from vaping-related lung injuries. The youngest person to die so far was 17 years old, and the oldest was 75.
- 1,479 other “confirmed and probable” cases of vaping-related lung problems have been reported to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) across 49 US states, plus Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands.
- Most of the lung injuries are happening to vapers who inhale THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. But some injured patients say they only ever vaped nicotine, and it’s still not clear what substance, or cocktail of substances, is causing the lung problems.
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Something mysterious and deadly is happening inside the lungs of vapers across the country.
At least 33 people have died, and 1,479 others have come down with potentially life-threatening lung injuries, after they vaped.
The cause of these vaping-related injuries and deaths are still puzzling investigators. The lung issues are killing young and old vapers alike, and they’re spread out around the country, suggesting there may be no single source of a dangerous substance, or substances, that are making vapers sick.
The average age of deadly vaping cases across the US is 44 years old, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Thursday. Vaping has killed people as old as 75, and as young as 17.
“You are playing with your life when you play with this stuff,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said last Tuesday, announcing the death of a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx, the first death in that state, and the youngest deadly case reported in the US so far.
A 30-something was also recently killed in Connecticut, a woman in her 60s died in Massachusetts, and in Utah, someone “under the age of 30 … died at home without being hospitalized,” the Utah Department of Health reported last Wednesday.
Here’s where all 33 reported deaths have been documented:
There isn’t any single brand or substance tied to the lung illnesses, but federal investigators say some trends about who gets sick and what they’re inhaling are starting to emerge.
“Most patients report a history of using THC-containing products, and most patients are male and young people,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said on a call with reporters earlier this month.
So far, more than three quarters of the vaping-related lung injuries appear to be popping up in people who say they have vaped at least some THC, which is the key ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. But 10% of lung-injury patients (who reported what kind of substances they were vaping) said that they’d only used nicotine products, suggesting there could be some common ingredient that both THC and nicotine vapers are inhaling that’s creating a danger.
Because patients in the outbreak all have some history with vaping, the CDC suspects there may be some kind of “chemical exposure” at work now, and the agency is testing lung biopsy and autopsy specimens from some patients to try to figure out what’s going on.
In the absence of any clear culprit, the US Food and Drug Administration is telling consumers not to use THC vapes of any kind. The CDC agrees with that advice, but goes a step further on its website, saying that all vaping is “unsafe,” and urging people not to vape any THC or nicotine products, at least while their investigation is still underway.
“Simply put, inhaling harmful contaminants in the lungs could put a patient’s health at risk and should be avoided,” acting FDA Director Norman Sharpless said in a statement.
- Read more:
- Vaping is leading to a spate of lung injuries, comas, and death. Lung experts say oils like vitamin E may be partially to blame.
- The FDA just leveled a stark warning against using any vapes containing THC amid an outbreak of lung disease
- Trump wants to ban flavored vapes, but that might just worsen the vaping lung injury crisis
- Mysterious vaping illnesses are causing life-threatening lung injuries and death. Here’s what we know about the people who have been affected so far.
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