September 6, 20192:20 PM ET
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that the number of possible cases of severe respiratory illnesses among people who vaped nicotine or cannabis-related products has more than doubled, to 450 in 33 states.
“Although more investigation is needed to determine the vaping agent or agents responsible, there is clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response,” David Christiani of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health writes in an editorialpublished Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
In a media briefing Friday, the CDC suggested people should avoid using e-cigarettes.
“While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products,” says Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, incident manager of the CDC’s response to the vaping-related lung injuries. “People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms, for example, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea and vomiting — and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns.”
Late last month, the CDC said the number of reported vaping-related cases stood at 215. Five people have died — in Illinois, Oregon, Indiana, Minnesota and California.
Many, though not all, of the patients who have fallen ill had used cannabis-derived vaping products, and some had also used nicotine-containing products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only.
No infectious causes have been identified, and the CDC told reporters that the “lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure.” But it is too early to pinpoint a single product or substance that is common to all cases, the CDC said, based on preliminary research also published Friday.