The number of patients suffering from suspected e-cigarette-related lung damage has increased to more than a thousand, U.S. health authorities said Thursday, while the epidemic death toll is now 18.
Authorities have yet to identify the cause of the June outbreak and follow several investigative lines.
A report from North Carolina physicians last month pointed to the inhalation of fatty substances from aerosolized oils as causing acute lipoid pneumonia, but a new study published this week by the Mayo Clinic found that the lungs of patients were exposed to noxious fumes.
“I think we really have the feeling right now that there may be a lot of different nasty things in e-cigarette or vaping products, and they may cause different harms in the lung,” Anne Schuchat, a senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a call with reporters.
Around 1,080 cases are under investigation, which is a huge jump of 275 since last week. This count increased when CDC put added new patients list that became ill in the past two weeks and also names of those who were previously identified with the same problem.
Around 578 patients were interviewed about substances they had used in which 78 percent were reported using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with or without nicotine products. Remaining 37 percent were reported with exclusive use of THC products, and other 17 percent said they had only used nicotine-containing products.
THC is the major psychoactive substance of marijuana.
About 70 percent of patients are male, and 80 percent are under 35 years old.
E-cigarettes has been available in the US since 2006 and it is not known whether the epidemic is happening only now — or whether they were cases that have been wrongly identified in the past.
Originally conceived as a tobacco cessation tool, the use of e-cigarettes has risen among teens, with new official data for 2019 showing more than a quarter of high school students using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.
Before recently, they are viewed as a less dangerous alternative to smoking because they do not contain 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes, hundreds of which are known to cause cancer.
Only one case has been identified abroad, making the outbreak still more mysterious The Canadian authorities said that a young person had been hospitalized in September, but so far no other country has announced anything specific.
Public and political sentiment seems to be hardening, however, with US President Donald Trump’s administration declared in September that it would ban flavored e-cigarette items that are particularly attractive to young people in the coming months.
India issued ban on all e-cigarette products same as has the US state of Massachusetts.