Breakthrough reported in vaping illness outbreak investigation

Breakthrough reported in vaping illness outbreak investigation

Breakthrough reported in vaping illness outbreak investigation

"These new findings are significant", said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, in a conference call, declaring the discovery a breakthrough in the investigation.

In a telebriefing Friday, CDC officials told reporters investigators regard vitamin E acetate as "a very strong culprit of concern" but there still may be other compounds or ingredients contributing to the lung damage problem. "There may be more than one cause".

The report is based on finding the vitamin compound in fluid samples taken from the lungs of 29 patients who had the lung disease.

But this is the first time the oil has been detected directly in the lungs of patients in what's called bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples, which are extracted from the lining of the lung using a tube pushed in through the nose. The CDC said the lack of THC in five of those samples does not definitively indicate the patients didn't use the drug, because THC can be hard to detect in samples taken from lungs. Pirkle said it wouldn't be unusual for THC to be absent from some of the samples because it leaves the lungs faster.

THC or hints of it were detected in 82% of the BAC samples.

USA health officials announced a breakthrough Friday into the cause of a mysterious outbreak of vaping illnesses, reporting they have a "very strong culprit". CDC tested for a wide range of substances that might be found, including plant oils and petroleum distillates, such as mineral oil.

Until the investigation is complete, the CDC suggests people refrain from using all vaping products with THC, no matter where people buy them. Another MMWR report published today, found through a survey conducted in IL, that patients who had EVALI were about nine times more likely to have gotten their products from informal sources such as a friend, a family member or the black market.

Vitamin E is safe to use in skin creams and to take in supplements, but the CDC warned that there is a "big difference" between ingesting or using it on the skin and inhaling its sticky oil form.

"To me what's important here is both what they found, and what they didn't find" said Scott Becker, head of the Association of Public Health Laboratories.

As of Tuesday, there had been 2,051 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with e-cigarettes or vaping products in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, with 39 of the cases fatal.

E-cigarettes have been responsible for the deaths of 40 Americans in 24 states (red).

Hundreds of patients whose lungs were injured have acknowledged vaping THC - the main psychoactive component of marijuana - and previous tests have detected vitamin E in samples of THC vape products.

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