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US Vaping-Related Lung Illnesses Appear to Have Peaked

05:50  07 december  2019
05:50  07 december  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

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Hundreds of people across the country have been sickened by a severe lung illness linked to vaping , and a handful have died, according to public health officials. Many were otherwise healthy young people, in their teens or early 20s.

The CDC says it is probing 450 reported cases of illness in people who vaped nicotine or cannabis products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only. No infectious causes have been identified, and the CDC told reporters that the " lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure."

  Vaping-Related Lung Illnesses Appear to Have Peaked © Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The rate of new hospital admissions for vaping-related illnesses has dropped in the past several weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggesting that the outbreak is on the decline.

Doctors, cannabis-industry analysts and other experts say the trend is most likely explained by wider awareness, changing consumer habits and a potential shift in the illicit market.

“The national picture seems to be trending in the right direction,” said Peter Briss, the medical director at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, who is managing the outbreak investigation. “I’m cautiously optimistic that all of the information sharing and communication may have helped.”

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Vaping related illnesses are on the rise, and it appears to be related to a black market of THC vapes. WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez sat down with doctors Health officials are investigating more than 2,000 confirmed and probable cases of pulmonary illness in the U.S. related to vaping and e-cigarette

The news about vaping is reaching a fever pitch. On Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would ban flavored e-cigarettes, following Michigan's lead. Last week police in Wisconsin announced arrests in connection with a drug operation that was filling 3,000 to 5,000 illegal THC vaping cartridges.

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As of Dec. 4, there have been 2,291 hospitalized cases of vaping-related illnesses and 48 deaths, according to the latest CDC data. The illnesses are also now spread across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with Alaska reporting its first case earlier this week.

While no single product or substance has been associated with all of the cases, the majority are linked to THC-containing products, particularly illicit products obtained from friends, family members, dealers or online. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. In November, federal officials pinpointed vitamin E oil or acetate, which is sometimes added to illicit THC products, as a likely culprit.

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The vaping - related condition that has sickened hundreds of people has a new name: EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. The new name, noted Friday in newly issued guidance for clinicians from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The outbreak of reported vaping - related lung illnesses has more than quadrupled in numbers over the last two weeks, federal health official "Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases," said CDC Director Robert Redfield and

Meanwhile, there has been a steady decline in weekly hospitalizations since Sept. 15, when weekly admissions peaked at 217 patients, according to a CDC report released on Friday. The percentage of recent cases has dropped in half in the past three weeks, and doctors across the country are saying new hospitalizations are on the decline.

Most of the lung-injury patients have been hospitalized, the CDC says. But in recent weeks, doctors say they have seen an increasing portion of less-sick patients treated outside of the hospital setting, and that they are largely crediting the shift to greater awareness among patients, doctors and families.

More doctors are also asking about vaping history, flagging potential cases and treating patients accordingly, potentially preventing some hospitalizations, says Denitza Blagev, a pulmonologist and critical-care physician at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah.

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VAPI appears to be a type of acute lung injury, similar to acute fibrinous pneumonitis, organizing pneumonia, or diffuse alveolar damage.[12] VAPI In September 2019, a US Insurance Journal article stated that at least 15 incidents of vaping related illnesses have been reported worldwide prior to

“Dank Vapes appears to be the most prominent in a class of largely counterfeit brands, with But officials said they did not know if vaping illnesses or deaths in other parts of the country were related to the same THC brands identified in Illinois and Wisconsin. Cases of vaping - related lung illness .

Health authorities and physicians also hope that the drop in new cases means that people have heeded the warnings from health officials and might have stopped vaping or else reduced the use of riskier products, such as Dank Vapes, a generic label on many illicit THC products that isn’t made by any one company.

Among hospitalized patients who reported vaping THC products, more than half used Dank Vapes, the CDC says, making it the most commonly reported THC brand.

“People are being more cautious about what they are vaping and perhaps how much they are vaping,” said Yulin Hswen, a computational epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “I do not know if they’ve stopped entirely, but I think the public is hesitant.”

A survey of 500 THC vape consumers in the U.S. found that half of them changed their vaping habits following the outbreak, according to cannabis-market research company Brightfield Group. Some respondents reported vaping less and turning to other cannabis products, and 11% said they halted vaping THC altogether. Some heavy THC-vapers reported moving from illicit products into the legal market.

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A second person has died from a severe lung illness after vaping , according to a lead investigator on the case in Oregon. The fact that the person who died in Oregon appears to have legally purchased the product raises questions about a theory that the products making people sick are counterfeit

cause of vaping - related lung illnesses — now up to 354 possible cases in 29 states, nearly double the number reported to be under investigation national e-cigarette companies — are associated with the recent cases because the illnesses appeared to have developed suddenly and do not appear to

“That feels like a pretty significant shift,” said Kay Tamillow, director of research at Brightfield Group. “There is definitely a changed perception of the healthiness of vapes.”

Some health officials and industry experts believe that illicit THC manufacturers might have stopped cutting their products with vitamin E acetate given the oil’s link to the illnesses.

In September, the New York State Department of Health issued subpoenas for three companies that sold thickening agents that were nearly all vitamin E acetate. Companies then began pulling those products, and the website for one subpoenaed company, Honey Cut Labs LLC, went dark, according to reporting from the cannabis-news publication Leafly.

Officials and representatives for Honey Cut Labs couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“If what happened with Honey Cut’s website is anything of an indication, no one in their right mind is still trying to push” vitamin E acetate, said Jordan Lams, the founder and chief executive officer of Moxie, a licensed producer of cannabis extracts based in California.

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are still warning consumers to stop vaping THC products and to avoid buying illicit products or modify products themselves.

Melodi Pirzada, a pediatric pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital on Long Island, N.Y., said a 19-year-old patient she saw recently was hospitalized after vaping several types of THC cartridges. When Dr. Pirzada asked whether the teenager had seen reports on the vaping-related illnesses, the patient responded that her products looked different from the ones on the news, says Dr. Pirzada.

“Because the white vapor is different-looking than the one on TV, she thought it was OK,” said Dr. Pirzada, who still sees new patients with the vaping-related illness both in the hospital and in her specialty clinic. “It’s not over.”

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