Health Editor’s Note: The numbers for vaping illness are rising…along with deaths. Vaping illness has been found in 48 states. The commonality for all the illnesses and deaths is e-cigarette use. Lack of oversight of e-cigarettes, along with quick and easy availability does not help in discovering why vaping is causing illness, which can become fatal.How did e-cigarettes slip through the cracks of regulations?…..Carol
CDC: Vaping Illness Cases Top 1,000
by John Gever Managing Editor MedPage Today
The case count for so-called vaping illness has now reached 1,080 with 18 deaths, government officials said Thursday, but they offered no new insights into the causes.
At this point, cases have been identified in 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands; the 18 deaths have occurred in 15 states, illustrating the outbreak’s national scope.
On a phone call with reporters, Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director at the CDC, said the outbreak’s epidemiological profile remained the same as described in earlier reports: victims are mostly young men and a large majority had used THC products in the weeks before falling ill.
Specifically, among 578 victims who provided information on product use in the past 3 months, the following were reported:
- 78% used THC products
- 37% used THC products exclusively
- 58% used nicotine products
- 17% used nicotine products exclusively
Other components suggested as having a role, such as vitamin E acetate, also don’t appear to be involved in many cases.
“I wish we had more answers about specific harmful products,” Schuchat said.
The 275 cases added to the total of 805 reported a week ago included confirmation of some earlier illnesses as vaping-related that had previously been uncertain, as well as individuals newly becoming ill, she said.
Judy McMeekin, PharmD, the FDA’s deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, emphasized on the call that “no one product or substance” has been linked to all cases. “We are leaving no stone unturned” in seeking to identify specific e-cigarette products or constituents that may be triggering illness.
For now, Schuchat said the agency had mounted a major effort to understand and quell the outbreak. Among the steps the CDC has taken were:
- Sending CDC personnel to assist in state-level investigations
- Reaching out to clinicians to build awareness and gain information
- Engaging with relevant professional societies
- Developing rigorous testing strategies with the FDA and other partners to identify potential triggers
For consumers, Schuchat had little encouraging to say. Alluding to the nearly complete lack of oversight for e-cigarettes, she said, “It is pretty much impossible for you to know what is in the e-cigarette or vaping product that you’re getting, particularly THC-containing products bought off the street or bought from social sources.”