TWO more people have died of a severe lung illness linked to vaping – bringing the US death toll to 11.
Health officials in Florida and Georgia both reported the first deaths in their states from the vaping-related illness yesterday.
Georgia officials revealed that the person who died had “a history of heavy nicotine vaping”.
Florida officials did not share addition information on the death in their state.
They are the latest deaths following a spike in people being struck down with mysterious and life-threatening lung diseases in the US.
The previous nine deaths occurred in Kansas, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Oregon and Illinois.
Californian officials have since issued a stark warning to the public to stop all forms of vaping immediately.
The state’s public health department made the plea in a health advisory which urged “everyone to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source” until investigations into the epidemic have concluded.
The department said to date it has received reports that 90 Californians with a history of vaping have been hospitalised with severe breathing problems and lung damage, two more have died.
Doctor Charity Dean, California’s public health officer, said: “We are seeing something that we have not seen before.
“There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 530 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 38 states and one US territory.
The growing toll has prompted officials to launch a criminal investigation.
However, they are still struggling to identify a single product or chemical in e-cigarettes behind the outbreak.
Mitch Zeller, a director at the Food and Drug Administration, said: “The focus is on the supply chain.”
The illness was first reported in April and all patients are known to have used e-cigarettes — some containing the cannabinoid THC.
Symptoms can include fatigue, coughing, breathlessness and vomiting or diarrhoea.
States have begun banning e-cigarette sales and the first case has been reported in Canada.
Anne Schuchat, from the Center for Disease Control, urged vapers to give up. On the deaths, she said: “We do expect others.”
It came a day after India said it was banning e-cigarette sales and imports.
How safe are e-cigarettes in the UK?
In the UK, e-cigarettes are tightly regulated for safety and quality.
They’re not completely risk free, but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes.
E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke.
The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.
While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, it’s relatively harmless.
Almost all of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.
Nicotine replacement therapy has been widely used for many years to help people stop smoking and is a safe treatment.
There’s no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you.
This is in contrast to secondhand smoke from smoking, which is known to be very harmful to health.
The first death identified as related to vaping was announced last month in Illinois where a patient had suffered a “severe respiratory illness” after vaping.
In July, a person in Oregon who had recently used vapes containing cannabis oil died.
Another death was reported on September 6 by health officials in Indiana, who said the patient was over 18 and had a history of e-cigarette use.
Minnesota Department of Health announced on the same day that a patient had died in August from a lung disease associated with vaping THC – the psychoactive chemical in cannabis – products.
Two deaths were announced in Los Angeles County and Kansas, earlier this morning.
Then last week, a 40-year-old man in California died after battling a “severe” lung disease linked to vaping for several weeks.
Last Monday, the agency said it has activated its emergency operations centre to coordinate the investigation.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said: “CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths.”
While the cases have not yet been linked to a specific product or ingredient, health officials have urged consumers to quit vaping altogether.
Health investigators are trying to establish whether a particular toxin or substance is being added into products, including marijuana, or whether it stems from heavy usage.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes vape liquid containing THC – the psychoactive agent in cannabis – could be to blame and have issued a warning.
But many patients have said they have no knowledge about the substances they might have used – making treatment complicated.
MORE ON E-CIGARETTES
For those who continue, the CDC is urging 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.
British health experts have also raised concerns over the health risks of vaping – but Public Health England said they are not aware of any similar incidents in the UK.
Vaping has been recommended to smokers trying to quit nicotine – and they’re claimed to be up to 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes.
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