FDA and CDC warn against 'street' vapes and mods in lung injury update

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has teamed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue an update on their ongoing investigation into cases of severe lung injury linked to vaping. The agency says that 215 'possible' cases of this condition had been identified in 25 states as of August 27. The cases all have one thing in common: the use of vapes with nicotine and THC.

News about an unnamed severe lung condition manifesting in people who use vapes first surfaced at the local level, eventually making its way from local health agencies to state health departments. Wisconsin was the first state to issue a public advisory warning that multiple people who vape had developed a potentially related lung condition that is severe in nature.

Another two dozen states have identified and reported similar cases, catching the attention of the FDA — which has been criticized for moving slowly on its regulation of vaping products — and the CDC, which is providing aid to state and local health departments.

According to an update from the FDA, the various lung condition cases reported in these states share many similar symptoms. These illnesses are described as having started gradually with issues like chest pain, trouble breathing, and shortness of breath. As well, some of these patients have also experienced gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting.

Officials say that the use of vaping products containing THC, a compound from marijuana, has been reported in 'many cases.' However, officials haven't yet identified a single product, ingredient, or supplier linking all of these cases and the exact cause of these illnesses — and whether they're all due to the same issue — remains unclear at this time.

The FDA and CDC call their investigation of the matter 'critical,' explaining that both are working together on standardizing the information collection process related to these cases. Though neither agency can pinpoint any products of concern at this time, officials are advising against certain practices.

The FDA says people should avoid using 'street' vapes, meaning ones produced by and/or acquired through sources other than typical stores and verified vendors. As well, the FDA is advising against vape mods, which are vaping devices that have been modified to produce more vapor or to offer other features like larger liquid tanks. Users are also advised to avoid adding other substances to vaping devices.