Indiana reports state’s first vaping death; cases of mysterious lung illness climb

Published: Sep. 6, 2019 at 7:07 PM EDT
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(WAVE) - Health officials in Indiana on Friday reported the state’s first death as a result of vaping.

The Indiana Department of Health said the victim, identified only as a person over the age of 18, died on Sept. 5.

The victim suffered a severe lung injury that was linked to a history of vaping.

Thirty cases of severe lung injury linked to vaping are currently under investigation in the Hoosier State. Of those 30, eight have been confirmed. The majority of the cases involve people between 16 and 29 years old.

The death in Indiana makes the third in the U.S. linked to vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deaths in Illinois and Oregon also have been confirmed recently. An additional 450 people with severe respiratory illnesses were reported across 33 states.

In Kentucky, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has two reported cases of pulmonary disease associated with vaping. One is considered probable, and a second is currently under review.

While the cases across the U.S. are all linked to vaping, CDC officials said there isn’t a common device or ingredient tied to all cases.

“We are committed to finding out what is making people sick,” DCD Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D., said in a statement. “All available information is being carefully analyzed, and these initial findings are helping us narrow the focus of our investigation and get us closer to the answers needed to save lives.”

Pulmonary specialist Dr. William Lacy said the outbreak shouldn’t be the only concern.

“I don’t know that I know enough, that anyone knows enough to say electronic cigarettes long term are going to be better than cigarette smoking,” Lacy told WAVE 3 News. “It took us decades to figure out that cigarettes were really, really bad for us and now all of the sudden are we going to wait decades to find out that this is bad for us, too? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Dr. Kris Box, the Indiana State Health Commissioner, said anyone who has vaped within the last 90 days and develops respiratory symptoms to stop using these products and see a healthcare professional immediately.

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