Washington, Sept 7 (AFP/APP):At least five people have died in the United States after vaping, officials said Friday, in an outbreak that has sickened hundreds with severe pulmonary disease and left several teens in induced comas.
Federal officials said that no single substance has been found to be present in all the laboratory samples being examined, however investigators in New York said they were now focusing on black market cannabis e-cigarette products containing vitamin E oil.
On Friday, local health authorities in California and Minnesota announced the vaping-related deaths of two individuals, both older and in relatively poor health, at least one of whom had used products containing THC, the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis.
There are now more than 450 possible cases of pulmonary illness associated with vaping, more than double the figure reported last week, according to Ileana Arias, acting deputy director for non-infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Daniel Fox, a pulmonologist in North Carolina, said that patients he had examined had a non-infectious pneumonia known as lipoid pneumonia, which can occur “when either oils or lipid-containing substances enter the lungs.”
New York’s health department said laboratory test results showed very high levels of vitamin E oil in cannabis cartridges used by all 34 people in the state who had fallen ill after using e-cigarettes, and as a result was focusing its investigation in that direction.
Vitamin E acetate is a commonly available nutritional supplement taken orally or applied to the skin, but is harmful when inhaled.
The Food and Drug Administration’s acting administrator Ned Sharpless said his agency was aware of the reports, “but no one substance, including Vitamin E acetate, has been identified in all of the samples tested” at a nationwide level.
Many patients reported vaping cannabis, but some said they had only inhaled nicotine products.