News from the FDA/CDC

First death from severe lung illness associated with vaping reported in Illinois


The first death to occur in a patient with severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette product use has been reported in Illinois, officials announced at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telebriefing.

The cause for the mysterious lung illnesses has not been determined, but an infectious disease does not appear to be implicated. As of yesterday, 193 potential cases have been identified in 22 states since June 28.

No specific product has been implicated in all cases, and it is unclear if there is a common cause or if these are several diseases with a similar presentation.

Wisconsin and Illinois have asked the CDC to directly assist them in their investigations of cases. Other states are handling their own investigations. Further information is available from the CDC at

There have been 22 cases of the illness in Illinois and an additional 12 individuals are being evaluated as possible cases, according to Jennifer Layden, MD, PhD, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist, Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois is working with the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration to investigate devices that affected patients have used. No specific product has been implicated across all cases; all patients have reported vaping in recent months Several patients in Illinois have reported using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) product oils, but Dr. Layden reiterated the investigations are reliant on information reported by affected patients only.

Mitch Zeller, JD, director, Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA, said product samples from a number of states are being evaluated to determine their contents. The FDA is examining samples sent and trying to identify product contents.

The cases reported to date have been in adults aged 17-38 years and have occurred primarily men. The investigation is in a relatively early stage and is working with incomplete case reports. These will become standardized to include more specific information, such as the name of the product, where it was purchased, and whether it was used as intended or whether other products were added, he said.

As e-cigarettes are not a new product, it’s possible that cases of this illness has been occurring but that the link was not recognized, and the cases were neither captured nor reported, said Brian King, PhD, MPH, deputy director, Research Translation, Office on Smoking and Health, CDC. He noted that e-cigarettes may contain “a variety of constituents that could be problematic in terms of pulmonary illness,” such as ingredients in certain flavorings and ultrafine particulates.

The agencies are now trying to harmonize reporting across all states so cases can be evaluated in a more standardized way. Information on standardized reporting on a national level will be issued in the next few days, according to the CDC.

The CDC notified U.S. health care systems and clinicians about the illnesses and what to watch for via a Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity Clinical Action Message.

In general, patients have reported a gradual onset of symptoms including shortness of breath or chest pain that increased over days or weeks before hospital admission. Gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue have been reported by some.

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