Health

U.S. vaping-related death toll is 13, with 805 illnesses reported

U.S. health officials report 805 confirmed and probable cases and 13 deaths so far from a mysterious respiratory illness tied to vaping.

As investigation broadened, reports have increased dramatically

The only common factor in the illnesses in the U.S. has been that the patients had all recently vaped. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC)

Hundreds more Americans have been reported to have a vaping-related breathing illness, and the death toll has risen to 13, health officials said Thursday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said 805 confirmed and probable cases have been reported, up 52 per cent from the 530 reported a week ago. At this point, illnesses have occurred in almost every state.

The confirmed deaths include two in California, two in Kansas, two in Oregon and one each in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi and Missouri. The deaths in Oregon and Mississippi was announced by officials in those states Thursday.

An Oregon state official urged people to immediately stop using all vaping products.

"People should stop vaping immediately," said Dean Sidelinger, Oregon's state health officer. "If you vape, whether it's cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit."

Canada has no confirmed cases related to vaping or e-cigarettes.

There are three incident reports from two provinces under investigation, with at least one dating back to 2018, Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam said on Monday. London-Middlesex's is among the three reports on which provinces need to gather more information to determine if they're cases.

In the U.S. over the summer, health officials in a few states began noticing reports of people developing severe breathing illnesses, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance. The only common factor in the illnesses was that the patients had all recently vaped.

As a national investigation started and broadened, reports have increased dramatically.

It's not clear how many of the 275 added cases occurred in the last week, and how many are being logged long after they happened. The CDC has not released details on when symptoms began in each case.

The agency's count includes only illnesses that have met certain criteria. Other illnesses are also being investigated.

Most patients have said they vaped products containing THC, the ingredient that produces a high in marijuana. The investigation has been increasingly focused on products containing THC, with some attention on ingredients added to marijuana oil.

But some patients have said they vaped only nicotine. Currently, health officials are advising people not to use any vaping product until the cause is better understood.

"Vaping is not without risk, and the potential long-term effects of vaping remain unknown. Non-smokers, people who are pregnant and young people should not vape," Health Canada advised.

Health-care professionals are asked to report severe adverse reactions or incidents related to vaping products, including nicotine or cannabis, to Health Canada.

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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