Healthcare

CDC reports more than 150 cases of possible vaping-linked lung disease

Federal authorities are investigating more than 150 cases of severe lung infection possibly linked to people using e-cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday said the cases are spread across 16 different states. 

The number jumped from 94 cases in just five days, and is likely to keep growing. The CDC said many states have alerted the agency to possible, but not confirmed, cases and investigations are ongoing.

The agency said the cases are similar, and appear to be linked to e-cigarette use among young people, but no official cause has been determined.

Cases have been reported in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

The main connection among the cases is that many patients have acknowledged recent use of vaping products containing THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

However, the CDC stressed that no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses.

No deaths have been reported, but patients reported a gradual start of symptoms including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and chest pain before hospitalization.

In a statement sent to The Hill, the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) urged a thorough investigation, but noted that there has been no evidence linking e-cigarettes to the reported illnesses. 

The e-cigarette makers' trade group called for public health officials to "refrain from assigning unsubstantiated blame until the facts are known," and said traditional nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are being wrongly conflated with THC-containing products. 

"State Public Health Departments have an obligation not simply to sound general alarms but to be precise in their warnings so as to not confuse or unjustifiably alarm the public," the group said.

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