E-cigarette death toll hits 21 and disease cases surge beyond 1,000 as people urged to stop
HEALTH bosses have urged people to stop using e-cigarettes as the number of people falling ill from vaping continues to soar.
There have now been 21 reported deaths across the US while cases of those contracting the mysterious lung disease has surged beyond 1,000.
The most recent fatalities were reported in Michigan and Pennsylvania over the weekend.
In Michigan, health officials wouldn't disclose details other than that the victim was an adult male, while Pennsylvania also announced its first vaping-related death on Friday.
It's prompted the Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning to stop using THC vaping products immediately.
FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said: "We're strengthening our message to the public in an updated consumer alert stating that they should not use vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
"Additionally, consumers who choose to use any vaping products should not modify or add any substances such as THC or other oils to products purchased in stores and should not purchase any vaping products, including those containing THC, off the street or from other illicit channels. He added: "According to recent findings, most of the patients impacted by these illnesses reported using THC-containing products, suggesting THC products are playing a role in the these illnesses."
It comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said cases had reached 1,080 confirmed and probable cases - up a quarter from the previous week.
The agency said cases were reported in 48 states and one US territory.
The CDC had yet to include the most recent victims, but as of last Tuesday, there were 18 deaths were across 15 states.
Last week, Connecticut, confirmed a patient in their 30s had died, while health officials in Delaware reported their first death.
Health bosses in Alabama, Virginia and New Jersey have also reported their first fatalities.
It was also revealed that a man from Nebraska died in May before the epidemic in the US was officially reported.
Prior to that three victims were reported in Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.
And there were two deaths in California, two in Kansas, two in Oregon, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Missouri, according to the CDC.
More than a third of patients are under age 21, but the deaths have been older adults who apparently had more difficulty recovering.
Meanwhile, the first British victim believed to have died from the vaping-related lung illness was named as Terry Miller, 57, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.
The growing death toll has prompted officials to launch an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration. However, they are still struggling to identify a single product or chemical in e-cigarettes behind the outbreak.
Until a cause is found, experts are warning people to "refrain" from using any vaping products. Dr Anne Schuchat, the CDC's principal deputy director, said: "We're worried that there are plenty of risky products still out there."That's one of the reasons we've intensified our warnings."
"It is pretty much impossible for you to know what is in the e-cigarette or vaping product that you're getting." ~ Dr Anne SchuchatCdc
Advising people to steer clear of vaping products, she added: "It is pretty much impossible for you to know what is in the e-cigarette or vaping product that you're getting, particularly THC-containing products bought off the street or bought from social sources."
Worryingly, she also admitted that the crisis had shown no sign of slowing.
"The data we are getting does not suggest this has peaked," she said.
Complicating the investigation are apparently conflicting medical reports about whats been seen in the lungs of different patients.
Some doctors suggested patients lungs are being clogged and inflamed by oils from vaping liquids, but a new report pointed to the kind of chemical burns that might come from poisonous gases.
The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine yesterday, revealed the lung injuries were most likely caused by direct toxicity or tissue damage from noxious chemical fumes - similar to those seen in industrial accidents.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have manged to review lung biopsies from e-cigarette users who were suspected to have the vaping lung injury.
Experts likened the injuries to when someone is exposed to a toxic chemical spill, or when soldiers breathed in deadly mustard gas during WW1, reports the Star Tribune.
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.
New York was due to ban flavoured e-cigarettes but it's been put on hold after a court ruling at the 11th hour, it's been reported.
A report from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK says 200 health problems are linked with e-cigarette use.
The health watchdog has recorded 74 reports of health problems suspected to have been caused by e-cigarettes since 2014.
Of them, 49 were classified as "serious".
This article originally appeared at The Sun website