In one week, six new deaths and 275 new cases were identified, according to the criteria established by the health authorities.
The epidemic of lung diseases linked to the consumption of electronic cigarettes in the United States does not weaken. The latest assessment has risen to 18 deaths and 1,080 patients, announced Thursday, October 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC).
In one week, six new deaths and 275 new cases were identified, according to the criteria established by the health authorities: half of the new patients corresponded to old cases that had not been recognized as such, and the other half to people who have been hospitalized in the last two weeks. "Unfortunately, the epidemic (…) continues at a rapid pacesaid Anne Schuchat, a senior CDC official. We do not observe a decline in the occurrence of new cases. "
It is in the context of this mysterious epidemic that several states and cities have decided to ban either all e-cigarettes (Massachusetts, San Francisco …) or vapers flavored with anything but tobacco (mint, menthol, fruits…).
The reason given for prohibitions is the protection of young people. One in four high school students said they had been vaping in the past month, according to a survey published in September in the United States. New England Journal of Medicinecompared to 11% in 2017. In addition, 78% of patients for whom information is available indicated that they had consumed refills of THC vapors, the psychoactive agent of cannabis.
As a precaution, and failing to understand what causes disease, the authorities officially advise vaping, especially if it is cannabis products bought from dealers. "The black market is a big concern for us", said Mme Schuchat.
"No single substance has been identified"
More than 400 samples are in the hands of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which analyzes them in the hope of finding the ingredient or ingredients that may have caused the lung lesions, among the many additives, solvents, oils and flavors added in e-liquids to cut cannabis or nicotine. "The samples we analyze give different results, and no single substance has been identified"said Judy McMeekin of the FDA. At this stage of the investigation, "We must keep an open mind and admit that sources in one part of the country are not necessarily the same as elsewhere", added Mme Schuchat.
The analysis of lung lesions does not give similar results by region. A study of 17 patients by doctors from the Mayo Clinic Hospital Network, released Wednesday, found lesions similar to those that exposure to toxic gases produced on the lungs, such as chemical burns. Another study of five patients in North Carolina showed, conversely, lipid pneumonitis lesions, when oils penetrate the lungs.
"We have the impression that there are a lot of bad things in e-cigarettes and vaping products, it's possible that different things will damage the lungs in different ways"added the head of the CDC.