Illness linked to counterfeit vapes ‘starting to decline’

After reaching a peak in September, new cases of acute lung injury linked to the use of e-cigarettes are falling but still haven’t reach pre-crisis levels.

That’s the latest from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which says that as of December 17 there have been 2,506 hospitalised cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) since the outbreak started in June, including 54 deaths.

Further laboratory tests also back up the suspicion that vitamin E acetate is closely associated with the outbreak, which was found in 48 of the 51 EVALI cases tested.

The CDC also confirms that ‘Dank Vapes’, a class of largely counterfeit tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) containing products of unknown origin, was the most commonly reported product brand used by patients.

“Although we are seeing progress in the investigation and response, we must remain vigilant,” says the agency.

“National data show that certain groups of EVALI patients released from the hospital are more likely to be re-hospitalised or die,” it adds.

Updated clinical guidance recommends that hospitalised patients be documented as clinically stable for 24–48 hours prior to discharge, and they should have a follow-up visit with a primary care provider or pulmonary specialist within 1-2 weeks of leaving hospital.

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