A California man has died of a severe lung illness linked to vaping, state health officials said this week. The vaping-related death marks the second in the state and the seventh in the nation in recent weeks.
The man, who was not identified, lived in Tulare County and was older than 40.
“With sadness, we report that there has been a death of a Tulare County resident suspected to be related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer, in a statement.
“The Tulare County Public Health Branch would like to warn all residents that any use of e-cigarettes poses a possible risk to the health of the lungs and can potentially cause severe lung injury that may even lead to death. Long-term effects of vaping on health are unknown. Anyone considering vaping should be aware of the serious potential risk associated with vaping,” Haught added.
The man also suffered from “other complicating health issues” a Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency public information officer told the Los Angeles Times.
There are 380 cases vaping-linked lung illnesses across 36 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week. There are now two deaths reported in California, the first in Los Angeles County. Deaths have also been reported in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon.
The 380 cases the federal health agency is probing all have a history of vaping or e-cigarette use. Some of the patients involved reported vaping products that contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high” sensation. Others reported only vaping nicotine, while some patients used both.
Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. That said, the CDC has not found a specific cause of the illness, and no one product or ingredient has been identified.
In light of the vaping-related illness, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month warned consumers to avoid vaping products that contain THC. Though no specific additive, ingredient or substance has been identified in the vaping-related illnesses, health departments in some states — namely New York — have linked some of the illnesses to vitamin E acetate found in marijuana vaping devices.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.