Health and Science

Death toll climbs from vaping illnesses as Florida, Georgia report new fatalities

Key Points
  • The Georgia patient had a history of heavy nicotine vaping but no reported history of vaping THC.
  • Georgia is investigating nine cases while Florida is investigating 27, including the deceased patients.
  • The mysterious lung disease related to vaping has sickened at least 530 people across the U.S., with hundreds of new cases reported in recent days.
A man vapes at a store on September 17, 2019 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Georgia and Florida health officials have both reported their first vaping-related deaths, bringing the total number of U.S. fatalities from a lung disease that resembles a rare form of pneumonia to at least 11.

Georgia is investigating nine cases, including the deceased patient. Most of the patients are men, ranging from 18 to 68 years old, with a median age of 26, the Georgia Department of Public Health said Wednesday. Florida's Department of Health said on Tuesday it had 27 cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week said the mysterious lung disease has sickened 530 people across the U.S. Hundreds more have been reported in recent days, a CDC official told U.S. lawmakers at a hearing Tuesday. Kansas reported its second vaping-related death on Monday.

Health officials have traced the illness to vaping, though they are still trying to identify the exact cause. Some patients are reluctant to disclose what they were vaping, especially THC, which is illegal in most states. People are using an array of products, and no one product, brand or substance has been linked to all the cases.

While the Georgia patient had a history of heavy e-cigarette use, doctors said the patient didn't vape THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

State and federal officials have taken steps in recent weeks to pull flavored e-cigarette pods off store shelves amid an alarming spike in teen use and the recent spate of deaths. Massachusetts on Tuesday imposed a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products, including THC cartridges, which are legal in the state.

Israel also announced an emergency ban on flavored e-cigarette sales on Tuesday and said it was considering a full prohibition, according to The Times of Israel. India said it was blocking sales of all e-cigarettes last week, and China is also reportedly tightening its restrictions on the products.

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that U.S. consumers avoid all vaping products.

Doctors have identified a common set of symptoms that worsen over time, including coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They're advising anyone who has a history of vaping and has trouble breathing or experiences any of the other symptoms to seek medical care.

Correction: This article was updated to correct the number of vaping-related deaths in the U.S.