The number of cases of lung injury deemed at least probably attributable to vaping rose to 805 as of Sept. 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday, up from 530 the previous week.
The CDC reported that cases have cropped up in 46 states, a majority of which — 67% — are seen in young people, between 18 and 34 years old.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that “we are seeing more and more [cases] each day and we expect weekly numbers will be much higher.” She added that the cases seen across the country are resistant to antibiotics, ruling out the possibility that people are experiencing lung infections.
Schuchat said the CDC and state health officials are employing “syndromic surveillance,” that is, narrowing down the possible causes of lung injuries by looking at the common symptoms seen in the patients.
In a separate hearing on the e-cigarette epidemic Wednesday, acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless reaffirmed that “e-cigarette products are not safe.” He further admitted that the agency had not acted quickly enough to prevent the wave of vaping-related injuries plaguing the country, but pledged to “catch up.”
Until the CDC, FDA, and state health officials pinpoint the chemicals responsible for the hundreds of lung injuries reported, all are recommending that people stop vaping immediately.
“We are trying to be careful when we don’t know what the substance that’s at risk is, and we are trying to sustain credibility against those who may think we’re exaggerating,” Schuchat said Tuesday. “We know people are dying and we want people to protect themselves and not take risks unnecessarily.”