FRIDAY, Dec. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Cases of a serious, sometimes fatal, form of lung injury tied to vaping have now been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In total, case numbers have risen to 2,291, according to the latest update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued Thursday.
Overall, 48 people across 25 states have now died due to the illness, the CDC said. In fact, case numbers have begun to climb so high that as of Dec. 4, the agency said it plans to only report those cases that required hospitalization. That means that already, the “CDC [has] removed 175 nonhospitalized cases from previously reported national case counts,” the agency said.
Evidence is building that a compound known as vitamin E acetate, present in many “black market” vape products, especially those containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), could be to blame. In its latest update, the CDC notes that lung fluid samples from current patients “identified vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products” as being present. Testing done on other common vape ingredients — things such as plant oils, petroleum distillates like mineral oil, medium-chain triglyceride oil, and terpenes — have shown no role in the illness outbreak.
New forms of vaping-related illness are also emerging. Earlier this week, doctors reported the first known serious case of “popcorn” lung, observed in a Canadian teen. The report was published online Dec. 2 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association. And yesterday, a new report emerged describing the case of a 49-year-old California woman who vaped marijuana and then came down with hard-metal pneumoconiosis or “cobalt lung,” the form of pneumonia that is normally associated with exposure to hard metals in industrial settings. This report was published in the December issue of the European Respiratory Journal.
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