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North Carolina Records Numerous Cases of Vaping-Related Lung Illness in 2019

January 16, 2020

North Carolina recorded numerous cases of vaping-related lung illness in 2019, part of a rash of documented cases that swept the country in the later part of the year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to investigate the illness, which has been tied to the use of e-cigarettes and vape pens.

In June 2019, patients in the U.S. began to present to emergency departments with an unexplained lung illness. Many of these cases were serious, and it became quickly apparent to state and federal health officials that the outbreak needed prompt investigation. Officials tied the illness to e-cigarette and vape pen use but released little other information about the origins of the illness during most of 2019. 

The CDC has now called the illness e-cigarette, or vaping, product-use associated lung injury, EVALI for short, and has identified product contamination with vitamin E acetate as a possible explanation for the illness. Vitamin E acetate is not harmful in most applications, but inhalation of the chemical can cause serious lung complications. As of January 14, 2020, the CDC has identified 60 fatalities in connection with EVALI in 27 states and 2,668 confirmed cases of EVALI nationwide involving hospitalization or death. 

Before the close of 2019, North Carolina saw many patients with EVALI in its emergency rooms, with 61 reported cases. By October 2019, the United States and the Virgin Islands had more than 1604 confirmed cases of the illness with 34 fatalities. Among the North Carolina cases at that time, 70 percent said they had used a vaping device with nicotine, and 80 percent said they had used a vaping device with THC. Half of the patients said they had used a vaping device for both substances. 

The CDC is still investigating chemicals and products tied to the outbreak, and the agency still recommends that people avoid e-cigarette and vaping products while the investigation continues. 

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Category: Personal Injury

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