The number of vaping-related lung injuries has soared in the last week, up to 805 from 530, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Forty-six states and one territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands, have been affected. Twelve people in 10 states — California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri and Oregon — have now died.
“This is something pulmonary critical care physicians are experiencing across the country right now,” said Albert Rizzo, the chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, on September 24 during congressional testimony on the outbreak before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
The CDC updated the case count on September 26, but hasn’t released new information on why e-cigarette users are developing life-threatening lung illnesses. At the committee hearing, Anne Schuchat, CDC’s principal deputy director, described the agency’s ongoing investigation as challenging because of the large number of states involved, the diversity of e-cigarette products, the wide array of ingredients in the devices and the potential involvement of substances like marijuana.
Plus, “users can modify the products, and the heating process can also influence the types and amounts of chemicals a user is exposed to,” Schuchat said. “The identification of the cause or causes for the outbreak may take substantial time and continuing effort.”
These lung illnesses have left patients, many of whom were young and healthy, gasping for breath and requiring hospitalization (SN: 9/6/19). As injuries surge and with recent research finding that vaping among teens continues to climb (SN: 9/18/19), there have been federal and state calls to limit the use of flavored e-cigarettes, which are particularly popular among youth, or even ban vaping.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release plans to pull non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors from the market. Meanwhile, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Rhode Island, as well as San Francisco, have recently announced bans on some or all nicotine vaping products, with Massachusetts also banning marijuana vaping products.