US health officials announced Friday that they are now aware of at least 450 possible cases of severe lung disease that could be caused by vaping. These cases, which have occurred in 33 states and one jurisdiction, include some cases that are still under investigation by state health officials.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials on Friday revealed the third and fourth confirmed vaping related deaths in Minnesota and Indiana. Two deaths, one in Illinois and one in Oregon, had been previously reported.
Minnesota health officials said the person who died there was over 65, had a history of underlying lung disease and passed away in August. The Minnesota patient had a “long and complicated hospitalization” that involved “a severe lung injury that progressed to include other conditions,” according to the statement. After the patient died, investigators linked the lung injury to “vaping illicit THC products.”
Another potential vaping-related death was reported in Los Angeles, according to an announcement by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The CDC has not confirmed if the LA death is part of the national trend.
The CDC, FDA and state health departments say they’re working together to figure out which products might have been used and to facilitate laboratory testing. Health officials say they haven’t found a definitive cause or a clear connection between cases, but some are zeroing in on potential clues.
“We believe that a chemical exposure is likely associated with these illnesses,” Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, CDC’s incident manager for the response to the outbreak, told reporters Friday.
“At this time, no one device, product or substance has been linked to all cases,” she added, “and continued investigation is needed to better understand if a true relationship exists between any specific product or substance and the illnesses we are observing in patients.”
The CDC and various state health departments have reported widespread use of products containing THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance in cannabis.
On Thursday, New York health officials said their investigation had found “very high levels” of the chemical vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing vaping products that were analyzed. The chemical is now “a key focus” of the department’s investigation into the illnesses.