Tue | Oct 15, 2019

US records first death related to vaping amid concerns about mystery lung disease

Published:Saturday | August 24, 2019 | 10:07 AM

The United States (US) has recorded its first death from the use of e-cigarette and other such devices commonly referred to as vaping, health officials have confirmed.

The death of a Chicago patient who developed a severe respiratory disease due to vaping comes as experts investigate a mystery lung disease across the US that is linked to use of e-cigarettes.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 193 "potential cases" have been identified in 22 US states.

The cause of the mystery illness has not been identified, but all involve vaping in some form.

Many of the cases involve vaping THC, the main active compound in cannabis, and were reported between June and August, the CDC said.

Dr Jennifer Layden, Chief Medical Officer and state epidemiologist in Illinois, said the person who died was "hospitalised with unexplained illness after reported vaping or e-cigarette use".

Head of non-infectious diseases at the CDC Dr Ileana Arias revealed that a majority of the persons afflicted with the mystery disease “have acknowledged recent use of THC-containing product".

Coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue and in some cases vomiting and diarrhoea are the common symptoms among those affected, the CDC said.

“There is no evidence of an infectious disease - such as a virus or bacteria - being responsible”, Arias insisted.

However, she acknowledged that a lot of things about the disease remain a mystery.

"It isn't clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations," Arias said.

There have been 22 cases in the state of Illinois, with patients ranging from 17 to 38 years old.

The 22 states affected are largely in the centre and north-east of the country, from Minnesota to North Carolina, though cases have also been reported in California, Texas, and New Mexico.

Officials have ordered laboratory tests of vaping liquid samples in a bid to identify any harmful compounds.

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