MDHHS reports fourth person to die due to vaping-related lung injury in state

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), a fourth person has died of e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injuries — the latest downward spiral in an outbreak that has seen 73 cases of lung injury since August 2019 in the state.

The latest victim was an adult woman, who died on Feb. 19, though further details are scarce due to confidentiality reasons. What is known is that all cases — including hers — have stricken people ranged between ages 15-67. All known cases have been reported in the state’s Lower Peninsula, generally originating from hospitalizations for severe respiratory illness.

“Although reports of new cases related to this outbreak have decreased in Michigan and across the country, new cases continue to be reported,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS, said. “We urge Michigan residents to refrain from vaping until a definite source or sources have been identified. Health care providers should remain vigilant in educating their patients about the potential risks associated with vaping and report any cases to their local health department.”

The MDHHS urges any e-cigarette or vaping users to seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, fever or nausea, and vomiting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are also aware of such issues, having identified vitamin E acetate — an additive in THC-containing vaping products — as strongly linked to vaping-related lung injuries.

As of now, the MDHHS has recommended people monitor themselves for symptoms and refrain from THC-containing e-cigarettes or vaping products, that youth, young adults and pregnant women refrain from vaping and e-cigarettes entirely, that tobacco users should not switch to such products, that vitamin E acetate should not be added to these products and that people be aware there may be additional substances involved in these issues. As for those using e-cigarettes or vaping products as alternatives to smoking, the MDHHS urged users to consider using cessation medications.

Nationwide, the CDC reported that as of Feb. 4, 2,758 cases of vaping-related lung injuries have been identified across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, 64 of them leading to death.