Vaping behind emerging pulmonary illness, experts say

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Long presented as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, vaping is now being called a public health threat.

Los Angeles County health officials announced Friday the first known death resulting from the use of e-cigarettes, the fourth nationwide.

According to Dr. Muntu Davis, the county’s health officer, the deceased man was over 55, and had a pre-existing health condition. Vaping is considered the probable cause of death, however.

“Nationwide, we are learning how dangerous these devices may be, and the long-term health impacts remain unknown at this time,” Davis said. “The bottom line is everyone should think twice about vaping until more is known about their impacts on the health of their users, and the role they play as a contributor to lung damage leading to death.”

The deadly vaping-induced illness is being called ‘vaping-associated pulmonary injury,’ or VAPI, by experts. There have been 12 cases of VAPI thus far, nationwide.

VAPI presents with symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, and may include vomiting and diarrhea. According to the CDC, possible vaping-related illnesses have been reported in more than 25 states. The CDC has advised Americans to stop vaping until the effects are better understood.

No specific device nor substance has been linked to all VAPI cases, however.

“We are committed to finding out what is making people sick,” CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a statement. “All available information is being carefully analyzed, and these initial findings are helping us narrow the focus of our investigation and get us closer to the answers needed to save lives.”

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