First Death in a Spate of Vaping Sicknesses Reported by Health Officials

A person in Illinois has died from a mysterious lung illness apparently associated with an unknown vaping product, public health officials said on Friday.

This is the first death of someone whose symptoms have been linked in the last two months to vaping. Health officials do not know whether the respiratory illnesses have been caused by vaping marijuana-type products, e-cigarettes or some type of street concoction. About 190 cases of vaping-related sicknesses, some resulting in severe lung damage, have been reported in 22 states, federal health officials said.

The Illinois patient’s identity was not disclosed Friday during a news conference held by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the state of Illinois.

There was no additional detail provided about what product the patient had used — whether e-cigarette or other vaping device — and whether the substance inhaled was nicotine, T.H.C. — the high-inducing chemical in marijuana — or something else.

Amid the lack of information, health officials said they are scrambling to find common themes to the respiratory problems. “More information is needed to know what is causing these illnesses,” said Ileana Arias, an official at the C.D.C.

A disproportionate share of the cases appear to be happening in Illinois, where there have been 22 confirmed illnesses, according to Dr. Jennifer Layden, the chief medical officer and state epidemiologist at the Illinois Department of Public Health. She said officials were still investigating the patient’s death.

Federal officials noted that states are handling most of the investigations of the respiratory illnesses. One of the challenges, authorities said, is that there are multiple possible causes, including myriad toxic substances that may be involved, and so zeroing on the problem is not simple.

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