Texas teen, 15, becomes nation’s youngest vaping-related fatality

A 15-year-old Texas resident has become the nation’s youngest vaping-related fatal victim, officials said on Thursday.

The Dallas County of Health and Human Services (DCHHS) announced the death on Dec. 31 but did not identify the patient or what he or she had vaped prior to falling ill. The teen had a “chronic underlying medical condition,” according to county health officials, who did not specify the condition.

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"As of December 30, 2019, DCHHS has received reports of 53 confirmed or probable cases in patients hospitalized in Dallas County facilities, including one teen who reported just starting vaping one month ago," officials added.

“Reporting a death in a teen due to EVALI is so tragic,'' said DCHHS Director Dr. Philip Huang in a statement. “We are seeing that severe lung damage, and even death, can occur with just short term use of these products.”

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As of Jan. 7, there have been 2,602 cases of EVALI across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday, adding some 57 deaths across 27 states and the District of Columbia have been confirmed. The median age of the deceased is 51, with ages ranging from 15 to 75. The minimum age appears to have changed to reflect the Texas teen’s death, reported The New York Times. Previously, a 17-year-old from the Bronx in New York was the nation’s youngest EVALI death.

Illegal THC-containing vaping products – primarily those that also contain the additive vitamin E acetate – are likely to blame for the illnesses, the CDC said in December. That said, federal health officials, who continue to investigate the outbreak, have cautioned there may be more than one cause and noted tobacco-containing e-cigarettes are not considered safe either.