Thursday December 12, 2019

CDC Activates Emergency Measures to Tackle Recent Spate of Lung Illnesses Blamed on Electronic Cigarettes

"CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths

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CDC, Emergency Measures, Lung Illnesses
FILE - A patron exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York. VOA

Federal health officials have activated emergency measures to tackle the recent spate of lung illnesses blamed on electronic cigarettes.

“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” the organization’s head, Dr. Robert Redfield, said Monday.

Redfield said activating the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center lets experts give additional support to the agency’s staff “working to protect our nation from this serious health threat.”

As of Monday, the CDC was investigating 380 confirmed or suspected cases of vaping-related lung illness, including six deaths.

CDC, Emergency Measures, Lung Illnesses
Federal health officials have activated emergency measures to tackle the recent spate of lung illnesses blamed on electronic cigarettes. Pixabay

Health experts have been unable to pinpoint an exact cause, including a specific brand or ingredient in e-cigarettes, but are urging all e-cigarette users to stop.

The devices have been marketed as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Federal regulators have warned the largest e-cigarette maker, JUUL, against making such claims, saying they have not been proved.

Also Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newson announced a $20 million statewide campaign to stop young people from taking up the e-cigarette habit.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s health commissioner plans to ban fruit and candy flavored e-cigarettes, which appeal to youths. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also announced similar plans. (VOA)

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CDC Investigates The Mysterious Lung Disease

Finally there was a breakthrough in vaping lung injury probe in US

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Lung
5, 39 people have died of the lung illness, and 2,051 cases are being probed. Pixabay

The investigation into the mysterious lung illness linked to e-cigarette use in the US has led to the identification of a potential culprit by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of November 5, 39 people have died of the lung illness, and 2,051 cases are being probed.

The chemical, vitamin E acetate, is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette because it resembles THC oil, said CDC which announced the “breakthrough” on Friday.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis that gives users a high.

“Analyses of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (or samples of fluid collected from the lungs) of patients with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury identified vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing products,” CDC said.

The investigation involved analysis of samples of lung fluid from 29 patients. THC was identified in 82 per cent of the samples and nicotine was identified in 62 per cent of the samples.

Lung disease
E- cigarettes may interfere with normal lung functioning. Pixabay

CDC tested for a range of other chemicals that might be found in e-cigarette, or vaping, products, including plant oils, petroleum distillates like mineral oil, MCT oil, and terpenes (which are compounds found in or added to THC products).

But none of these potential chemicals of concern were detected in the fluid samples tested.

The “chemical of concern” that the investigation identified was vitamin E acetate.

“This is the first time that we have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries. These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs,” CDC said.

According to the CDC’s website, Vitamin E is a vitamin found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits and vegetables. It is also available as a dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products like skin creams.

Usually, it does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin.

However, previous research suggests when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

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It should, however, be noted that the CDC did not identify vitamin E acetate as the only ingredient linked to the illnesses.

“No one compound or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these illnesses to date; and it may be that there is more than one cause of this outbreak. Many different substances and product sources are still under investigation,” CDC said. (IANS)