(Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday it has activated its emergency operations center to coordinate the investigation into hundreds of cases of severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use.
The CDC’s Emergency Operations Center offers a central command post where teams of trained disease experts track public health emergencies, share information and coordinate the responses.
“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.
Recent emergencies in which the CDC activated the Emergency Operations Center include Hurricane Florence in 2018, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, and the Zika outbreak and the Flint, Michigan, water contamination crisis in 2016.
So far, the CDC has confirmed six deaths and is investigating 380 confirmed or probable cases of the vaping-related illness in 36 states and plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, the agency said last week.
While the cases have not yet been linked to a specific product or ingredient, health officials have urged consumers to quit vaping altogether.
For those who continue, the CDC urges consumers to avoid buying vaping products on the street, using marijuana-derived oil with the products or modifying a store-bought vape product.
Anyone who has breathing problems after vaping, such as a dry, or unproductive, cough; shortness of breath and chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, should report them to their doctor.
(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Jonathan Oatis)