Sixth person dies from vaping-related illness in US

A sixth person has died from a serious respiratory illness linked to vaping in the US, health officials have confirmed.

The 50-year-old woman from Kansas had a history of health problems, according the NBC News.

But doctors said it was clear that vaping was the cause of her rapid deterioration in health.

Dr Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said: “She had some underlying medical illnesses, but nothing that would have foretold the fact that within a week after starting using e-cigarettes for the first time, she developed a full-blown acute respiratory distress syndrome and died.”

Acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, occurs when a person’s lungs fill with liquid.

Dr Norman said that the Kansas death was a warning that older adults may be at particular risk, with many recent patients across the US having been in their late 20s or 30s.

The woman had been one of six cases of vaping-related illnesses either confirmed or under investigation in the state.

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Dr Norman has predicted that the number will grow.

The other five vaping-related deaths were reported in Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Minnesota and California.

Michigan announced last Wednesday it planned to become the first state to ban the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes.

State health departments were aware of at least 483 confirmed or suspected cases of the severe respiratory illness in 39 states, plus the US Virgin Islands, by Tuesday afternoon.

This is a rise from the 450 cases reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention last week.

The increase in cases has prompted a Congressional hearing to be scheduled on the matter for later this month.

Patients tend to arrive at hospital coughing and short of breath, with many also having a fever, general fatigue or gastrointestinal problems.

It has not been unusual for the patients to be put into intensive care units and on ventilators.

All of them have reported vaping nicotine or a substance found in cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or a combination of the two in the days or weeks before falling ill.

The CDC has recommended people stay away from vaping devices while investigators work to pinpoint exactly what’s causing the respiratory problems.

Scans of the lungs of four patients, aged 19 to 49, showing damage to the lungs from vaping devices. Pic: New England Journal of Medicine
Image: Scans of the lungs of four patients, aged 19 to 49, show damage to the lungs from vaping devices. Pic: New England Journal of Medicine

Dr Humberto Choi, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, said patients have reported using a wide range of e-liquids and devices.

He added: “We haven’t seen any common pattern, but they’d all been vaping at the time they got sick.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tested 120 product samples, and so far has been unable to identify any one brand, ingredient or substance that could explain the symptoms.

An FDA spokesperson wrote that finding answers to the vaping-related illnesses was a top-priority.

The statement said: “We are all working tirelessly to get as much information as possible about any products or substances used.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in following any potential leads.”

An e-cigarette is a device that allows people to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke.

The devices do not burn tobacco and do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke.

They work by heating a liquid that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine, and flavourings.

Source: SKY NEWS

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