TULARE COUNTY, Calif. — A California resident who suffered severe lung problems after using an e-cigarette device has become at least the seventh person to die of pulmonary disease linked to use of the devices, health officials said Monday.
Tulare County Public Health officer Karen Haught said officials believe the unidentified Tulare County resident's death was "related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping."
Citing health officials, The Los Angeles Times reported the latest victim was an adult over the age of 40 who had a history of vaping.
"The Tulare County Public Health Branch would like to warn all residents that any use of (e-cigarettes) poses a possible risk to the health of the lungs and can potentially cause severe lung injury that may even lead to death," Haught said in a statement. "Long-term effects of vaping on health are unknown. Anyone considering vaping should be aware of the serious potential risk associated with vaping."
Tammie Weyker-Adkins, a public information officer for the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency, told the Times the person who died in the county had other "complicating health issues," but that before dying the person had undergone weeks of treatment for a pulmonary respiratory illness that appeared to be linked to e-cigarette use.
The death marked the second in California believed to be caused by vaping. Five other deaths have been reported, all adults and at least some with pre-existing lung problems or other conditions that may have made them more susceptible.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that at least 380 cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarette use had been reported across 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Health officials continue to investigate the illnesses. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
According to the CDC, no specific product or compound has been linked to all of the cases of pulmonary illness. Agency officials have said many who got sick said they vaped THC, but some said they vaped only nicotine. Health officials are advising people not to vape at all until more is known.
Poison control officials have been concerned about exposure to vaping products, including e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine, in recent years due to the high concentration of nicotine they contain compared with other tobacco products, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Association officials said that as of Aug. 31, poison control centers have managed 2,961 cases connected to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine this year. Last year, officials fielded 2,470 such cases, according to figures from the association.
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