CDC updates on lung injuries due to vaping

Oct. 28, 2019

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the CDC continues investigating the multi-state outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products, together with state and local health departments and federal partners including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As of October 22, 2019, the CDC received reports of 1,604 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products, now referred to with the acronym EVALI. These injury reports come from 49 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Thirty-four deaths have been confirmed in 24 states. These latest numbers represent an increase of 125 cases of lung injury compared with what we reported last week. 

So far, patients whose lung injury led to death ranged in age from 17 years to 75 years but tended to be older than other patients with lung injury. The median age for fatal cases was 45 years, compared with a median of 23 years for patients who survived lung injury, a difference that is statistically significant. Based on the information available so far, about a quarter of fatalities have occurred in people under 35 years of age. 

The vast majority of patients with EVALI, including those who died from their lung injury, had a history of use of e-cigarette or vaping products that contained tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). With data now available for more than 860 patients with EVALI, about 85 percent had a history of using e-cigarette or vaping products that contained THC. Around 10 percent reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products. 

A report in the (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from Utah’s investigation found that most patients there had gotten THC-containing vaping products from informal sources or online, rather than from brick and mortar stores or dispensaries. The Utah data are fairly consistent with the pattern of product use described in the Illinois and Wisconsin investigations where about 89 percent of patients reported getting THC-containing products from friends, family, illicit dealers or off the street. 

At this time, the FDA and CDC have not identified a single specific compound, substance, product or brand that is causing these lung injuries. As such, the CDC recommends that people do not use e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC and refrain from use of all e-cigarette or vaping products while the investigation continues. 

CDC has the release.