News from the FDA/CDC

Vaping-related lung disease cases rise, case reporting standardized


The number of possible cases of vaping-related pulmonary illness has risen to 215, reported from 25 states, as of Aug. 27, 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Additional reports of pulmonary illness are under investigation.

The CDC has released a standardized case definition that states are using to complete their own investigations and verifications of cases. It appears that all cases are linked to e-cigarette product use, but the cause of the respiratory illnesses is still unconfirmed.

In many cases, patients reported a gradual start of symptoms, including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain before hospitalization. Some cases reported mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea, or other symptoms such as fevers or fatigue. In many cases, patients have also acknowledged recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing e-cigarette products while speaking to health care personnel or in follow-up interviews by health department staff, according to a statement from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration.

The agencies are working with state health departments to standardize information collection at the state level to help build a more comprehensive picture of these incidents, including the brand and types of e-cigarette products, whether any of them would fall within the FDA’s regulatory authority, where they were obtained, and whether there is a link to specific devices, ingredients, or contaminants in the devices or substances associated with e-cigarette product use.

CDC staff have been deployed to Illinois and Wisconsin to assist their state health departments. The agencies have released a Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Clinical Action Alert describing this investigation and asking providers to report possible cases to their state health departments. In addition to a standardized case definition, the agencies have issued a medical chart abstraction form and case interview questionnaire, are reviewing and providing feedback on data collection and health messaging tools for states, and are facilitating information sharing between states with possible cases.

More information on the cases and reporting are available from the CDC.

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