FRIDAY, Sept. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — U.S. health officials have revised downward the number of cases of severe lung injury linked to vaping, from more than 450 cases cited last week to the total of 380 cases announced late Thursday.

The decrease is due to the exclusion of “possible” cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained. The new case total — which includes cases either confirmed or “probable” — have occurred across 36 states and the Virgin Islands, the CDC said in a statement. Some cases have proven fatal. “Six total deaths have been confirmed in six states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon,” the CDC noted.

The reason behind these illnesses and deaths remains uncertain, but one potential culprit is vitamin E acetate. Although vitamin E acetate is available as a dietary supplement and skin treatment, when vaped and inhaled, this oil can harm lung cells, experts say. Still, much more study is needed, the CDC said, and the exact cause of the illnesses remains unknown.

“The focus of our investigation is narrowing and that’s great news, but we’re still faced with complex questions in this outbreak that will take time to answer,” Ileana Arias, Ph.D., acting deputy director of noninfectious diseases at the CDC, said during a Sept. 6 media briefing. In the meantime, the CDC urges people to not use e-cigarettes until more is known about what is causing these lung injuries. The American Medical Association has issued a similar warning.

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