Last month we published a blog post about a national outbreak of vaping-related severe lung illnesses that was getting nationwide and international attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the help of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state health officials, initiated an investigation of the outbreak and what was causing it.
At the time, there were over 450 potential cases and six reported deaths due to the vaping lung illness. As of October 10th, the number of total cases has increased to 1,299 and the death toll has risen to 29 deaths.1 Despite the ongoing CDC investigation, the cause or causes of the vaping-associated pulmonary illness outbreak is still unknown. Health officials continue to advise against using e-cigarettes and other vaping products.
Due to the newfound awareness about these dangers, it seems there is a national backlash against vaping and e-cigarettes. Major retailers like Walmart, Walgreens, and Kroger have decided to stop selling vaping products amid the vaping lung illness outbreak.2,3 After treating two soldiers with vaping lung illness, the U.S. military banned all vaping products from being sold on its bases.4
Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Illness Given a New Name
The vaping lung illness that has affected over a thousand people across 49 states now has a name. In a newly issued guidance for clinicians published on October 11, the CDC introduced the new name: EVALI which stands for “e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.”5
In the guidance, the CDC also urged clinicians to be on high alert during flu season since the symptoms of flu and other respiratory viruses can look very similar to the symptoms of EVALI. Doctors and hospitals will also have to anticipate readmissions as the vaping illness outbreak continues.
Some patients who were hospitalized for EVALI and then discharged are being readmitted to hospitals later. The reason behind these readmissions is still not clear – weakened lungs due to the illness or corticosteroids used in treatment have been suggested. Another possibility is patients using e-cigarettes again after being discharged which health officials strongly caution against.
“I can’t stress enough the seriousness of these lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products.” – Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC5
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- Denise Grady, The New York Times – Vaping Illnesses Climb Upward, Nearing 1,300 With 29 Deaths
- Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN – Walmart will stop selling e-cigarettes as backlash spreads
- Lauren Hirsch & Angelica LaVito, CNBC – Kroger, Walgreens to stop selling e-cigarettes, amid backlash and regulatory uncertainty
- Alex Norcia, VICE – The U.S. Military Has Officially Turned on Vapes
Megan Thielking, Scientific American – Vaping-Related Illness Has a New Name: EVALI