Healthcare

Missouri man latest to die of vaping-related illness

A Missouri man died of a vaping-related illness this week, marking the first reported death of its kind in the state and the eighth nationwide, the state health department announced Thursday. 

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said the man was in his mid-40s and had normal lung function before he started vaping in May, based on lung samples taken by the department. 

He developed mild respiratory symptoms that worsened, and was hospitalized on Aug. 22. He was later transferred to Mercy Hospital St. Louis on Sept. 4, where he died. 

"This is an unfortunate case of a young man with no prior lung illness who started vaping because of chronic pain issues," said Dr. Michael Plisco, Mercy critical care pulmonologist and medical director of Mercy's extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program.

"He started out with shortness of breath and it rapidly progressed and deteriorated, developing into what is called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Once the lungs are injured by vaping, we don't know how quickly it worsens and if it depends on other risk factors."

The state health department said it's received 22 reports of possible vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses throughout Missouri since the department started advising, and later requiring, doctors to report such cases. 

Seven of the 22, including this week's death, have been confirmed as vaping-associated illnesses based on the definition by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the department said. Nine of the cases are under investigation and six did not meet the CDC's definition. 

The CDC reported 530 vaping-related illnesses this week - a dramatic spike from last week's reported 380 identified cases. Patients have been found in 38 states and one territory. 

Federal and state lawmakers have been eyeing legislation to ban certain products in response to the growing number of cases. 

Last week the Trump administration announced its looking to ban all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes. 

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) drafted legislation this week with a similar goal of banning flavors of e-cigarettes except tobacco. 

Some states have taken similar action. Michigan and New York announced this week they would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, which critics have said target young consumers.

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