The CDC has published its latest update on the vaping lung injury outbreak, revealing that the number of cases has increased to at least 530 people, the majority of whom are between the ages of 18 and 34. In addition to the new numbers, officials have also revealed that the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations has been probing the matter alongside the ongoing public health investigation.
In a statement today, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield revealed that 72-percent of the confirmed vaping lung cases involve males and that 16-percent of all patients are under the age of 18. The agency has received a set of ‘complex’ data on 373 of the current 530 cases. In addition to the risk of addiction and the development of this condition, Redfield notes that nicotine may cause harm to brain development in youth.
In addition to providing an update on the cases, Washington Post reports that the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations opened its own criminal probe into the matter earlier this summer shortly after reports of the illness were published. The investigation will look for potentially illegal activities that may have resulted in lung injury, but will not involve the pursuit of patients who disclose using illegal substances.
Patients impacted by this lung condition have been interviewed on the products they used as part of officials’ effort to find the common factor between the cases. These individuals have reported the use of nicotine and THC vapes, the latter of which involves a compound from marijuana that is illegal in many states.
The illegal nature of the chemical has resulted in some patients being ‘reluctant’ to reveal whether they used the substance out of fear of prosecution. The FDA confirmed in a statement that it is focusing on ‘the supply chain.’ Officials have noted that because marijuana is illegal in many places, consumers are forced to purchase it off ‘the street,’ meaning from private creators who exist outside of the supply chain.