Vaping lung disease case total rises to 2,290, death toll reaches 47

GP: Vaping
A pedestrian stands surrounded in a cloud of vapour after exhaling from a vape device.
Hollie Adams | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Another 118 people have fallen ill and five more have died from a lethal vaping lung disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The new cases bring the totals to 2,290 people who have fallen ill and 47 people who have died since the disease started emerging in the spring. The five new deaths were reported in Louisiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri and New York.

The outbreak continues to worsen despite public health officials’ efforts to discourage people from vaping THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, and to help doctors identify and treat the disease. Known as EVALI — short for e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury — the deadly disease hospitalizes nearly all patients.

Health officials are still trying to figure out what exactly is making people sick. They recently identified vitamin E acetate, an oil that is apparently being used in THC cartridges, as a possible concern although they caution there could be more than one cause.

Most patients report vaping THC, according to the CDC. Some say they vape both THC and nicotine. A minority of patients say they used just nicotine, though some doctors say people can be reluctant to admit what exactly they are actually using.

More than three-quarters of the roughly 2,000 patients the CDC has data on are under 35 years old. The median patient age is 24, though patients’ ages have ranged from 13 to 78 years old, the CDC said.

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