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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report Monday with first-time details about some of the people who have died from vaping-related illnesses.
As of Thursday, more than 1,600 people have come down with vaping-related illnesses, and at least 34 people have died.
Of those 34 people, the CDC had data about the substances used for 19 of them. Eighty-four percent used THC-containing products, either with or without nicotine, with 63 percent reporting that they used THC products only. Only 16 percent reported using exclusively nicotine products.
The CDC had data on the age and gender of 29 people who died. Among them, the median age of the patients was 45, and 59 percent were men.
Among all patients diagnosed with vaping-related illnesses, the majority have been young. About 79 percent have been under the age of 35, and about 50 percent have been under the age of 25. The age of those who have died tends to be older, though, with only two deaths occurring in people under the age of 25.
“It is evident from today’s report that these lung injuries are disproportionately affecting young people,” Robert R. Redfield, director of the CDC, said in a statement. “As CDC receives additional data, a more defined picture of those impacted is taking shape. These new insights can help bring us a step closer to identifying the cause or causes of this outbreak.”
There’s still a lot we don’t know.
Here’s my biggest question: What percentage of these vaping illnesses are coming from illicit market products versus regulated ones?
I get this question in my e-mail inbox almost every day, and I still unfortunately don’t have the answer to it.
My colleagues and I have asked Massachusetts health officials numerous times and have not been able to get an answer. As of Monday, the CDC is also not releasing specific data on this.
The most they’ve commented on it is in statements like the following, which the CDC released Monday: “The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.”
Felicia Gans can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.