The number of concerns surrounding vaping has been steadily rising. After a vaping-related illness caused two more deaths, the total number of vape fatalities now stands at eleven.
The eleven deceased are not the only ones who suffered from this disease. In fact, over 500 people have gone to a hospital across the United States. The medical staff has diagnosed them with the same mysterious illness, which shows up in the lungs after smoking e-cigarettes, popularly known as vape pens. Worryingly, officials stated that, in the last week alone, they recorded additional cases in the hundreds.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the illness took the first two lives in Georgia and Florida. As of yet, eight states have had patients succumb to it, while 38 states in total have had people diagnosed with it.
The majority of the patients have conceded that they would use their vape pens with products consisting of THC. THC is a cannabis compound that produces psychoactive effects. However, the patient who died in Georgia didn’t use any THC product — they only vaped “heavy doses of nicotine.”
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention stated that over 100 officials worked on investigating the cause of the illness, which has remained mysterious so far. They have advised all citizens to stay away from smoking all e-cigarette products until they have some substantial insight into the disease. This particularly stands for modified products or ones you can buy outside of official stores.
Investigating the Disease
During the last week, the CDC received hundreds of reports on new cases, according to Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director. Talking to the U.S. Congress members who are on the House Oversight Committee, Dr. Schuchat said that officials had to deal with new cases on a daily basis. She claimed that, despite the nonstop effort, it would take them a considerable amount of time to identify what was behind the disease and whether there was one or multiple causes.
Some of the symptoms people with the disease mainly experience include breathing issues, persistent coughing, and light chest pain. Some patients have also reported vomiting, fever, and fatigue.
Due to the nature of the illness (coming from vaping), the majority of the patients are young adults. In fact, as per the CDC report, two-thirds of all patients are aged between 18 to 34, while 16% are below the age of 18. The investigation that has been going on so far has failed to narrow it down to a single cartridge, device, or substance which would be common for all of the cases. On Thursday, the CDC will release an updated list of known cases, and many fear we will see a substantial rise in the number of cases. The last time they published a number was on September 17, when there were 530 cases.
Over the Pond
In Great Britain, estimates say that over 3.6 million people use e-cigarettes. The U.K. health bodies have reassured the public that they shouldn’t be concerned about the outbreak that is currently going on in the United States. Namely, head of tobacco control at Public Health England, Martin Dockrell, said that, even though they were unable to carry out an investigation, he was sure of the reports that said most cases were concerning people who smoked illicit vaping fluid. These fluids, according to Dockrell, are homemade or bought outside of official stores. Most of them contain cannabis-related products, such as THC or Spice — a synthetic cannabinoid.
Dockrell was critical of the regulations in the United States, claiming that the U.K. government had tight control over all e-cigarette products. He said that the regulatory agency was strict regarding quality and safety, and he reminded people they could utilize the Yellow Card Scheme — a way for them to report any negative experience.
When asked to comment on the fact that several countries, such as South Korea and India, have banned vaping, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, Linda Bauld, said that these bans were irresponsible and misleading. She claimed it was “highly unlikely” that these cases would be caused by vaping products containing the type of nicotine they regulated in Europe.
Bauld said that reactionary authorities who called for people to stop vaping inadvertently invited people who used vaping as a means to quit smoking to return to regular tobacco. According to Bauld, tobacco poses a greater health risk than vaping.