U.S. cuts vaping-related illness total under refined case definition

FILE PHOTO: A man uses a vape as he walks on Broadway in New York City, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. health officials on Thursday cut the number of lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes and vaping products under investigation to 380 as states began assessing patients based on a narrower case definition issued late last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The revised total now only includes confirmed and probable cases. The CDC had previously reported it was investigating more than 450 “possible” cases in the multistate-outbreak of the mysterious lung illness.

Six people have died from vaping-related illness, a number that remains unchanged, the CDC said. The deaths were reported in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon.

As of Sept. 11, an additional three states have reported cases of the severe lung illness linked to vaping, raising the total to 36 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, the agency said.

The CDC defines confirmed cases as patients who developed a breathing illness after vaping and underwent extensive testing that ruled out an infection. A probable case is someone who developed a lung illness after vaping and underwent some testing.

While the rash of illnesses has not yet been linked to a specific product or ingredient, health officials have urged consumers to avoid vaping altogether.

For those who continue, officials said they should avoid buying vaping products on the street, using marijuana-derived oil with the products or modifying a store-bought vape product, and to avoid inhaling vitamin E acetate, an ingredient found in some vaping products.

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bill Berkrot