Linked lung injury kills 18, sickens 1,080 in U.S. outbreak

THE CANADIAN PRESS  AP-Nam Y. Huh

THE CANADIAN PRESS AP-Nam Y. Huh

That is the question.

There are more than 1000 confirmed or probable cases of vaping-related lung injury across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday, including 18 deaths.

Health officials across the nation are are telling people to refrain entirely from vaping, whether marijuana or nicotine. Here's some information to help sort it out.

"Sadly, one of our residents with vaping-related lung injury has died", said DPH Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell. The increase in cases - up from 805 since last week- includes people who became ill over the course of the previous two weeks. The images and analysis showed injuries to their lungs resembling toxic chemical burns.

Of those found to have the lung injury, which can cause severe shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain, 70% were male and 80% were under 35-years-old.

What do I need to stay away from?

Some products also contained concentrations of a mix of THC and Vitamin E Acetate ranging from 31% to 88%. Signs, however, increasingly point to THC as the culprit.

All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing ones in particular, which, according to the latest national and regional findings play a key role in the outbreak.

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People who switched to vaping to cut down on smoking cigarettes should not go back to cigarettes, Canadian and USA health officials said.

The agency is now warning people to avoid use of all vaping products, especially products containing THC.

Most of the recommendations, including banning the sales of flavored e-cigarettes, will require legislation, he said. As the investigation continues, they said those percentages might change.

A total of 21 serious vaping-related illnesses are now under investigation in Los Angeles County, along with one death, authorities said Thursday.

Irina Stepanov, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, says she suspects the problem is a chemical component or toxicant that has been mixed into the vaping cartridges or pods.

"We hope that in the months ahead we'll learn a lot more about the spectrum of lung conditions that these exposures are having", Schuchat 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", said Schuchat.

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