U.S. health officials are investigating what might be causing hundreds of serious breathing illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. They have identified about 450 possible cases in 33 states, including six deaths.
A look at what we know so far about the outbreak as the investigation continues:
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Patients are coming into hospitals with cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and vomiting.
HOW SERIOUS ARE THESE ILLNESSES?
Many of the reports involve severe, life-threatening illnesses in previously healthy people. Many patients received oxygen. Some needed to be put on breathing machines before they recovered. Antibiotics didn’t work, and it’s not clear yet whether steroid drugs helped.
WHAT VAPING PRODUCTS ARE INVOLVED?
No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified. Most of the patients say they vaped products containing THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana. Others say they vaped only nicotine and others say they vaped both THC and nicotine.
IS THERE A COMMON THREAD?
Doctors believe this isn’t caused by a germ. Instead, they suspect chemical exposure. And vape juice contains many possible culprits.
After testing products, New York has focused its investigation on vitamin E acetate, which recently has been used as a thickener, particularly in black market vape cartridges. Suppliers say it dilutes vape oils without making them look watery. Vitamin E is safe as a vitamin pill or to use on the skin, but inhaling oily vitamin E droplets into the lungs can trigger pneumonia.
Learn more about: What we know so far about the U.S. vaping illness outbreak