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Third Illinois death tied to vaping related illness

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The Illinois Department of Public Health has announced a third Illinois death tied to the use of vaping products.  

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said because of privacy rules, she could reveal much about the latest death. However, she said the person was an Illinois resident who suffered a severe lung injury. The person also had a history of vaping within three months before death.

Dr. Ezike said all three vaping related deaths this year in Illinois were similar. The IDPH said all of the victims experienced respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. Some also had gastrointestinal symptoms.

 “At this time, a total of 166 people in Illinois, ranging in age from 13 to 75 years old, with a median age of 22, have experienced lung injuries after using e-cigarettes or vaping,” the department said in a news release. “IDPH continues to work with local health departments to investigate another 42 possible cases in Illinois.”

“The unfortunate death of a third Illinois resident underscores the seriousness of these lung injuries,” Ezike said. “New cases continue to be reported in Illinois and across the country.”

Health officials continue to investigate the deaths and illnesses related to vaping.

“We have not been able to identify any one product or substance that is involved in every one of the 166 cases that we have seen,” Ezike said. 

Her advice on vaping was simple: “We are urging people not to vape or use e-cigarettes, particularly the illicit THC based products.”

Ezike said anyone who has recently used a vaping product and develops atypical respiratory issues; such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, and shortness of breath, should immediately seek medical attention and let the providers know about vaping product use.  

Cases have been reported in 32 Illinois counties.

Nationally, 1,888 cases of vaping associated lung injury have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 49 states, Washington D.C. and one U.S. territory. No cases have been reported in Alaska. As of Oct. 29, 37 deaths have been confirmed in 24 states.

CDC 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.”