A second person in California has died from a severe lung illness that has been linked to vaping, making him the seventh nationwide, health officials in Tulare County said on Monday.
The unidentified patient's death was confirmed by the County's Health and Human Services Agency in a press release on Monday.
“With sadness, we report that there has been a death of a Tulare County resident suspected to be related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer. “The Tulare County Public Health Branch would like to warn all residents that any use of ecigarettes poses a possible risk to the health of the lungs and can potentially cause severe lung injury that may even lead to death. Long-term effects of vaping on health are unknown. Anyone considering vaping should be aware of the serious potential risk associated with vaping."
In response to the slew of illnesses across the nation, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have activated their Emergency Operations Center to aid the investigations into the vaping-related illnesses. The Emergency Operations Center will allow health officials to work from a central command post in which teams of trained experts from different agencies can coordinate their responses and share information.
“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette- or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield. “Activation of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center allows us to enhance operations and provide additional support to CDC staff working to protect our nation from this serious health threat.”
The agency says they are currently investigating 380 cases of lung illnesses across 36 states and 1 U.S. territory. All the reported cases have involved patients who used e-cigarettes or vaping THC products.
Health officials aren't sure what is causing the severe lung illnesses, and have not been able to link it to any one specific e-cigarette, vaping product or ingredient.
Symptoms include patients reportedly feeling sick for a few days and are initially misdiagnosed with bronchitis or something other kind of viral infection. Patients also reported coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
"Some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks," the CDC said on its website. "A pulmonary infection does not appear to be causing the symptoms, which have generally not improved with antibiotic treatment alone."
The CDC says:
- Youth and young adults should not use e-cigarette products.
- Women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarette products.
- Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products.
- If you do use e-cigarette products, you should not buy these products off the street (for example, e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids).
- You should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
- Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your doctor or other medical provider.
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