FRIDAY, Sept. 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Products containing the marijuana chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) appear to be a main driver behind the hundreds of U.S. cases of serious respiratory illness related to vaping, health officials announced Friday.

Looking at new national data on 514 cases where patients provided information on vaping products used, “we found that 77 percent reported using THC-containing products, or using both THC-containing products and nicotine-containing products,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She spoke during a media briefing on Friday. “THC-containing products were the most prominent link across patients, with only 16% reporting using only nicotine-containing products.”

THC-containing products seem to figure prominently in many cases, but no one product was responsible for all cases, noted Jennifer Layden, M.D., chief medical officer at the Illinois Department of Public Health and coauthor of a study focused on cases occurring in Illinois and Wisconsin. “A large and diverse number of products and brands were reported by patients,” Layden said during the Friday briefing. “Among all 86 patients in our study, 234 unique e-cigarette or vaping products across 87 different brands were reported.”

In most cases, THC-containing products typically came in pre-filled, packaged cartridges that patients had gotten from “informal” sources, such as family, friends, or illicit dealers. “While no one brand was reported by all patients, pre-filled THC cartridges labeled under the brand name Dank Vapes was the most common, with 66 percent of all patients reporting this name,” Layden noted. However, both Schuchat and Layden stressed that nicotine-containing vaping products without THC cannot be ruled out as a potential cause of harm. Because of that, the CDC recommendation for everyone to stop vaping stands.

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