The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has reported a second death in the state related to the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products.
On Thursday (Nov. 14), the DHSS said a Missouri woman in her mid-50s died this week, with vaping being a contributing factor. The woman’s death comes about two months after the state’s first reported vaping death – a man in his mid-40s who died Sept. 19 at Mercy Hospital St. Louis in Creve Coeur.
The DHSS reported that the woman was experiencing a long-standing, underlying chronic lung condition.
“Sadly, we report the tragic impact e-cigarettes have had on another Missourian, and we send our condolences to her family,” said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS director. “As previously stated, we encourage Missourians to follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance to refrain from using e-cigarette products if you are concerned about these specific health risks, especially while the investigation is ongoing.”
The Jefferson County Health Department has reported one confirmed case of a vaping-related illness in the county. That case involves a man between the ages of 15 and 24 years, who was diagnosed with a “vaping-associated pulmonary illness” on Sept. 12.
“We continue to be concerned with the quick adoption of vaping among residents,” Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar said. “Contrary to popular belief, vaping is not a safe alternative to smoking. We are just now beginning to see significant risks associated with the long-term impacts of vaping.”
On Thursday, the CDC reported that as of Nov. 13, there had been 42 confirmed deaths in 24 states and the District of Columbia related to vaping. DHSS spokeswoman Lisa Cox said the latest Missouri death had been reported to the CDC, but it was not part of the total reported deaths released Nov. 13.
The CDC said there have been 2,172 cases of lung injuries connected to e-cigarette or vaping product use, adding that cases had been confirmed in every state, except Alaska.
The DHSS launched a website Thursday to provide information about vaping and give weekly updates about cases of vaping-related deaths and illnesses. The website lists 35 cases of vaping-related illnesses in Missouri.
The DHSS’s weekly update breaks down the cases by sex, age and region. Of the reported vaping-related illnesses, 74 percent are men and 63 percent are between 15 and 24 years old.
Last week, the CDC reported a possible link in what is causing the deadly illnesses.
A study of fluid from lungs of 29 patients in 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all samples. Vitamin E acetate may be used as an additive, most notably as a thickening agent in THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, according to the CDC website.
While the chemical is the first potential culprit to be identified, others have not been ruled out.
Health officials say people should avoid e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC. They also say people should not buy vaping products from friends, family or online dealers.
People experiencing chest pain or difficulty breathing after vaping should seek immediate medical attention. They should also inform their health care provider about vaping use.