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San Diego County woman dies of vaping-associated lung injury

Posted at 2:36 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 17:36:33-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- A 76-year-old woman who died on May 24 is the first local fatality of e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Thursday.

Three vaping-associated lung injuries in young adults were confirmed in recent weeks and are the first reports of the lung illness in San Diego County since 2019.

All the newly reported local cases tested negative for the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, and all reported recently vaping products containing THC.

The California Department of Public Health recently recognized new reports of confirmed lung-injury cases in persons vaping THC-containing products in April, after no cases had been reported since February.

Since July 2019, a total of 52 EVALI cases have been reported in San Diego County residents. All patients had to be hospitalized.

"While our community is understandably focused on COVID-19, it is important to remember that lung injury from vaping is still a major public health concern," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "People who vape, especially those using THC-containing products, are urged to stop."

In January, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to restrict the sale of flavored smoking products and e-cigarette and vaping devices in the county's unincorporated areas. These restrictions were proposed as a response to the e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury cases in the county and across the country. Enforcement of these restrictions will begin July 1.

THC-containing e-cigarette or vaping products, particularly obtained from informal sources, are linked to most e-cigarette or vaping, lung injury cases. Vitamin E acetate has also been strongly linked to the outbreak and has been found in product samples from patients and in patient lung fluid samples.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people not use THC-containing e-cigarettes or vaping products obtained from informal sources such as friends, family, pop-up shops or online sellers. Additionally, the CDC says that youth, young adults and pregnant women should never use e- cigarette or vaping products.