Second death linked to vaping as illicit THC products implicated in some cases
Concerns continue to grow surrounding the ongoing reports of hospitalizations relating to e-cigarette use. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is investigating the death of an individual in July that may be related to vaping, while some reports are now suggesting unregulated THC liquids may be responsible for many of the cases.
As of late August the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 215 cases of severe respiratory disease were under investigation. Spanning 25 states, all the cases involved teenagers or young adults presenting to a hospital emergency ward with similar respiratory symptoms. The only thing linking these disparate cases so far has been recent e-cigarette use.
Following an announcement from health officials in Illinois last week revealing a patient with severe respiratory illness had died, Oregon health officials are now suggesting the case of an individual who died back in July is consistent with the growing cluster of suspected e-cigarette-related reports spreading across the country.
Very little detail has been revealed by the OHA surrounding the deceased individual, however the agency’s statement does note they, “had recently used an e-cigarette or vaping device containing cannabis purchased from a cannabis dispensary.”
Ann Thomas, a public health physician working with the OHA makes it clear that there is no singular cause attributed to these respiratory cases at this point, despite the deceased’s association with a cannabis vaping device.
"We don’t yet know the exact cause of these illnesses – whether they’re caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something else, such as the device itself," says Thomas.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently reported 89 percent of the 27 cases identified in the state so far could be linked to the vaping of THC products. This statement was based on interviews with the patients, however the state agency is working with the FDA to coordinate samples of suspected THC products for testing. No results from any of these tests have been released so far.
A joint statement from CDC director Robert Redfield and Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless revealed 80 samples supplied by patients across the country are currently being tested. Redfield and Sharpless make clear there is not one single product that links all of the cases, despite THC and cannabinoids being noted in many cases.
“More information is needed to better understand whether there’s a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses,” say Redfield and Sharpless in their recent statement. “At this time, there does not appear to be one product involved in all of the cases, although THC and cannabinoids use has been reported in many cases.”
Jerome Adams, the US Surgeon General, also reiterated this point in a recent tweet confirming, “NO single substance or e-cigarette product has been consistently associated with these illness reports.”