27 people have died from a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping. Here’s where they're all from.

Business Insider Politics 2 months ago
  • At least 27 people have died from vaping-related lung injuries. The youngest person to die so far was 17 years old, and the oldest was 75. 
  • 1,299 other cases of vaping-related lung problems have been reported to federal health authorities across 49 US states, plus Washington, DC.
  • Most of the lung injuries are happening to vapers who inhale THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. But some injured patients say they only ever vaped nicotine, and it's not clear what substance, or cocktail of substances, is causing the lung problems. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Something mysterious and deadly is happening inside the lungs of vapers across the country. 

At least 27 people have died, and at least 1,299 others have come down with potentially life-threatening lung injuries, after they vaped. 

The cause of these vaping-related injuries and deaths are still puzzling investigators. The lung issues are killing young and old vapers alike, and they're spread out around the country, suggesting there may be no single source of a dangerous substance, or substances, that are making vapers sick. The average age of deadly vaping cases across the US is 49 years old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Thursday. Vaping has killed people as old as 75, and as young as 17.

"You are playing with your life when you play with this stuff," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, announcing the death of a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx, the first death in that state.

A 30-something was also recently killed in Connecticut, a woman in her 60s died in Massachusetts, and in Utah, someone "under the age of 30 ... died at home without being hospitalized," the Utah Department of Health reported on Wednesday (a death that hasn't been counted in the federal CDC tally). 

Here's where the 27 deaths have been documented so far:

There isn't any single brand or substance tied to the lung illnesses, but federal investigators say some trends about who gets sick and what they're inhaling are starting to emerge. 

"Most patients report a history of using THC-containing products, and most patients are male and young people," CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said on a call with reporters last week. 

So far, about three quarters of the vaping-related lung injuries appear to be popping up in people who say they've vaped at least some THC, which is the key ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. But 13% of lung-injury patients (who reported what kind of substances they were vaping) said that they'd only used nicotine products, suggesting there could be some common ingredient that both THC and nicotine vapers are inhaling that's creating a danger.

Because patients in the outbreak all have some history with vaping, the CDC says it suspects there's some kind of "chemical exposure" at work now.

In the absence of any clear culprit, the US Food and Drug Administration is telling consumers not to use THC vapes of any kind, while the CDC "recommends that you consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC." 

"Simply put, inhaling harmful contaminants in the lungs could put a patient's health at risk and should be avoided," acting FDA Director Norman Sharpless said in a statement.


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