Illinois officials said Friday that a person who had recently used an e-cigarette and was hospitalized with severe lung illness had died. The death appears to be the first among a spate of mysterious lung illnesses now under investigation by state and federal health officials in connection to vaping – at least 149 cases in 15 states, many in teens and young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reports of the number of people hospitalized for vaping-related lung illnesses has doubled in the past week, Illinois officials said in a statement. At least 22 people, ranging in age from 17 to 38, have experienced respiratory illness after using e-cigarettes or vaping, it said. State officials are working with local health departments to investigate another 12 individuals.
The affected individuals have had symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, officials said. Some also experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before they were hospitalized.
Illinois officials said the death was in an adult who died this month, but did not provide further details about the person.
While some of the cases appear similar, officials said they don’t know whether the illnesses are associated with the e-cigarette devices themselves, or with specific ingredients or contaminants inhaled through them. Health officials have said patients have described vaping a variety of substances, including nicotine, marijuana-based products and do-it-yourself “home brews.”
In many cases reported across the country, including in Illinois, patients have acknowledged using products that contain THC, the main ingredient that produces the high from marijuana, according to the CDC and Illinois officials. But no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses.
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