Two New Vaping Related Deaths

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Indiana Health Alert Network Notification – October 10, 2019

Update on Severe Respiratory Illness among Persons Who Reported Vaping

Two New Vaping-Related Deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed today two additional deaths due to severe lung injuries linked to a history of e-cigarette use, or vaping. Since Sept. 6, Indiana has reported a total of three vaping-related deaths.

As of Oct. 10, ISDH is investigating 75 individuals with severe acute respiratory illness who reported recent e-cigarette use, vaping or dabbing (vaping marijuana oils, extracts, or concentrates). Indiana cases range in age from 16 to 65 years (median age, 28), and 72% are male. The ISDH has developed a webpage that is updated each Thursday with the latest case counts and provider guidance.

This is an ongoing investigation, and ISDH is working closely with the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other states responding to reports of similar cases. For the latest national surveillance data, visit the CDC webpage, which is also updated each Thursday. As of Oct. 8, the CDC reported 1,299 lung injury cases nationwide and 26 deaths in 21 states (this does not reflect the two latest Indiana deaths).

ISDH requests that healthcare providers who see patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness with a history of inhalation drug use in the previous 90 days, particularly vaping, report these cases to their local health department (LHD) as soon as possible. LHDs that are alerted of suspect cases should notify ISDH immediately.

Patients experienced symptoms including:

  • Cough, shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, fever or abdominal pain

Chest X-rays (CXR) show bilateral opacities, and chest CT imaging shows diffuse ground glass opacities, often with subpleural sparing. These symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital. Most patients were placed on oxygen; mechanical ventilation has been reported in only a few of the Indiana cases. Evaluation for infectious etiologies (bacterial, viral and fungal) were negative in all confirmed cases.

No specific vape source, product(s), substance or brand has been linked to all cases. The majority of cases nationwide and in Indiana have reported vaping THC or CBD oil. However, some cases have reported vaping only nicotine. If the patient has vape product available and would be willing to submit product for testing, please notify ISDH to work out submission logistics.

ISDH and the Indiana Poison Control Center have partnered to improve case reporting efficiency. To report suspected cases, submit vape product, or for additional information, please call the ISDH Epidemiology Resource Center desk at (317) 233-1325 or the Indiana Poison Center at (800) 222-1222.