Health and Science

Seventh person dies from vaping-associated lung disease

Key Points
  • A California patient has died from vaping-related lung disease. 
  • At least seven people have now died in the outbreak that has sickened nearly 400 people. 
  • The outbreak has heightened scrutiny of vaping products. 
A man poses for a picture as he vapes at a vape shop, February 1, 2019.
Daniel Becerril | Reuters

A California person has died from a vaping-associated lung disease that has now killed at least seven people and sickened hundreds, California health officials said.

The patient died from "complications related to the use of e-cigarettes," according to a press release Monday from the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency in central California. No identifying information was provided about the patient.

"With sadness, we report that there has been a death of a Tulare County resident suspected to be related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping," Tulare County Public Health Officer Karen Haught said in a statement.

The latest victim brings the death toll from the mysterious illness to seven. Doctors say it resembles lipoid pneumonia, a specific type of pneumonia that occurs when oil enters the lungs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 380 confirmed and probable cases.

Kansas health officials last week reported the death of a man who was over 50 years old and had underlying health issues, but many of the cases have occurred in young people who were otherwise healthy. Of the 53 patients studied in Illinois and Wisconsin, the median age was 19 years old, officials wrote in a New England Journal of Medicine report last week.

In many cases, patients vaped both nicotine and THC, the marijuana compound that produces a high, complicating efforts to identify a culprit. Still, the outbreak has heightened scrutiny of vaping and prompted lawmakers to call for stricter regulation of e-cigarettes.

President Donald Trump last week said his administration would move forward to sweep the market of flavored e-cigarettes, a move that would reshape the industry.

A closer look at the rise of vaping and the backlash against it
A closer look at the rise of vaping and the backlash against it