The number of vaping-related lung illnesses has topped 1,000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday.
As of Oct. 1, there have been 1,080 confirmed and probable cases of lung illness tied to vaping reported to the CDC, including 18 deaths.
“The increasing number of lung injury cases we see associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, is deeply concerning,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield.
“Unfortunately, this may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the escalating health threat this outbreak poses to the American public, particularly youth and young adults,” Redfield added. “CDC will continue to work with FDA and state health partners to investigate the cause, or causes, of this outbreak and to bring an end to these lung injuries.”
Most of the 578 patients who have been interviewed by health officials said they had vaped THC with or without nicotine products, the CDC said.
Still, the CDC says it still doesn’t know the cause of the illnesses, and no brand or substance has been linked to all cases.
It may not be THC or nicotine that is making people sick, but any number of the chemicals or additives that are found in vaping liquids, particularly those bought off the street.
“We really want to caution people that it is pretty much impossible for you to know what is in e-cigarette or vaping products, particularly THC-containing products bought off the street or bought off social sources,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat.
A study released last week showed showed some patients in Illinois and Wisconsin became sick after vaping THC products sold under the brand name “Dank Vapes,” which does not appear to be a legitimate manufacturer.
Most of the patients also reported getting their products off the street or from friends and family.
About 80 percent of the patients are younger than 35, and 16 percent are under 18, according to the CDC’s data.