Vaping-Related Illnesses Rise Above 500 as FDA Announces Criminal Probe

September 19, 2019 Updated: September 19, 2019

Federal officials said on Thursday, Sept. 19 that at least 530 people have gotten a vaping-related lung illness as a criminal probe was revealed for the first time.

Seven people have died from the disease across six states. An eighth death has been reported in Illinois, where one already took place, but that death has not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC said nearly three-quarters of the cases are male and two-thirds are 18 to 34 years old.

The sicknesses have been reported in 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Based on initial data from certain states we know: Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine,” the agency said.

Officials said they still don’t know the specific cause of the injuries and stressed that no specific e-cigarette or vaping product, such as refill pods, have been linked to all of the cases.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday that it’s been conducting a criminal probe into the situation, the first time officials have revealed that publicly.

“We are in desperate need of facts,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told reporters in a phone call.

He said the probe will focus on products and include how they’re being used. The department has already gathered over 150 product samples for analysis and is testing them for traces of poisons, pesticides, opioids, and other substances.

“People are dying,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at CDC. “We ask you to take these recommendations seriously.”

She said the agency expects additional deaths and officials are “working around the clock” to try to figure out the cause of the sicknesses.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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