Massachusetts Announces First Death from Vaping Illness

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reported the state’s first known vaping-associated lung injury fatality. The victim, a Hampshire County woman in her 60s, was among the 121 possible cases of the mysterious illness that have been recorded by the department since September 11, the date when Massachusetts issued a mandate that all vaping-associated lung injuries be immediately reported.

“The number of confirmed and probable cases of vaping-associated lung injury we’re seeing continues to escalate and today I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of a patient who had this illness,” Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD., MPH., said in a press release issued Monday. “We are investigating these cases as quickly as possible and working with our federal partners to better understand this outbreak.”

Among the 121 reports of the illness in Massachusetts, nine cases have been confirmed and 10 have been deemed “probable.” About 39 reports of lung issues have been ruled out as being associated with vaping.

As of October 1, a total of 1,080 cases of the illness have been reported to the CDC nationwide. 18 deaths have been confirmed, a total that doesn’t include the recent announcement from Massachusetts.

While all patients have reported use of vaping products, there is no single product that has been implicated in every case. The CDC does say that most patients are reporting vaping THC, leading officials to believe that products containing THC “play a role” in the outbreak.

The news of Massachusetts’ first vaping fatality comes two weeks after Governor Charlie Baker instated a public health emergency and four-month statewide ban on the sale of all vaping products in Massachusetts to allow researchers time to try to find more answers about the disease.

The ban has met significant backlash. A group of vape shop owners filed a lawsuit in an attempt to resume their sales, saying that the ban would case their businesses irreparable harm. While a federal judge refused to grant them a temporary restraining order last Friday, they have a hearing scheduled for October 15.

Patients with confirmed cases of the vaping-associated lung injury have reported symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and abdominal pain. If you have recently used a vaping product and have symptoms such as these, the CDC advises you to see your healthcare provider.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2019/10/08/vaping-illness-death-massachusetts/