The condition that has left more than a thousand people sick has a new name, EVALI, e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.

Here’s what is known according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

As of Oct. 15, 1,479 lung injury cases associated with e-cigarette or vaping use have been reported to the CDC from the District of Columbia, one U.S. territory (USVI) and 49 states, with the exclusion of Alaska.

Thirty-three deaths have been confirmed in 24 states: Alabama, California (3), Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia (2), Illinois, Indiana (3), Kansas (2), Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (3), Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon (2), Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. More deaths are under investigation.

The median age of deceased patients was 44 years and ranged from 17 to 75 years.

Among 1,358 patients with data on age and sex:

- 70% of patients are male.

- The median age of patients is 23 years and ages range from 13 to 75 years.

- 79% of patients are under 35 years old.

By age group category:

- 15% of patients are under 18 years old;

- 21% of patients are 18 to 20 years old;

- 18% of patients are 21 to 24 years old;

- 25% of patients are 25 to 34 years old; and

- 21% of patients are 35 years or older.

Among 849 patients with information on substances used in e-cigarette or vaping products in the 3 months prior to exhibiting symptoms:

- About 78% reported using THC-containing products; 31% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.

- About 58% reported using nicotine-containing products; 10% reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products.

However, there is a lot that is still unknown. At this time, the FDA and CDC have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries in these cases, and the only commonality among all cases is that patients report the use of e-cigarette or vaping products.

This outbreak might have more than one cause and many different substances and product sources are still under investigation. The specific chemical exposure(s) causing lung injuries associated with e-cigarette product use or vaping remains unknown.

The CDC does have several recommendations:

- All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette or vaping products. It is known that THC is present in most of the samples tested by FDA to date, and most patients report a history of using THC-containing products. The CDC recommends that the public should not use e-cigarettes or vaping products that contain THC.

- THC use has been associated with a wide range of health effects, particularly with prolonged heavy use. The best way to avoid potentially harmful effects is to not use THC, including through e-cigarette or vaping products. Persons with marijuana use disorder should seek evidence-based treatment by a health care provider.

- There is no safe tobacco product and the use of any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carries a risk.

The CDC posts updates every Thursday. For more information from the CDC and to see their continuous efforts, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html 

A lot of people and organizations are focused specifically on vaping and its effects on the 15%, children under the age of 18.

According to a press release, on Oct. 15, Gov. Mike Parson signed Executive Order 19-18 that directs the Departments of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and Public Safety (DPS) to use existing resources to develop a statewide campaign to educate, warn and deter the use of vaping devices among Missouri’s youth.

“As Governor, our future generation is very important to me. Despite the laws currently in place, there has been a rapid increase in vaping among our youth,” stated Governor Parson. “People across the country are being hospitalized, some even losing their lives, with links to vaping. This is truly an epidemic, and it is critical that actions be taken to protect the health and well-being of Missouri’s youth.”

Some even go as far as to label youth vaping an epidemic.

“We are facing an epidemic of youth vaping partly driven by the fact that many young people do not believe there are immediate or long-term risks associated with vaping,” said Randall Williams, Missouri DHSS director, in the press release. “The ‘Clear the Air’ campaign is intended to ensure all youth and those who supply them with these products understand the real risks identified with youth vaping. Using e-cigarettes has become a gateway to traditional cigarette smoking for adolescents, and it’s led to dangerous addictions.”

People here at home are also trying to raise awareness to educate the youth and those around them in our community.

On Oct. 14, CoxHealth and Branson United Methodist Church presented The Truth About Vaping.

CoxHealth Cancer Center Branson Director Ben Morris and CoxHealth Community Educator Jim Brawner helped educate participants on the dangers and risks of vaping and e-cigs on young adults.

At the meeting the adverse effects of vaping were also highlighted:

–Brain: addiction

–Eyes: irritation, blurry vision, wounds and burns in case of e-cigarette explosion

–Mouth and airways: irritation, cough and increased airway resistance

–Heart and circulation: increased heart rate, chest pain and increased blood pressure

–Stomach: vomiting, nausea and pain 

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