DPH: Five new vaping-related illnesses reported in Mass.

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on Monday five new vaping-related lung injuries were reported to the CDC.

According to a news released by the DPH, two out of the five cases have been confirmed while the three other cases are probable, bringing the state's total count on vaping-related illnesses to 10 cases.

Five of the 10 cases are confirmed and five others are considered probable for meeting the CDC's definition of what constitutes as a vaping-related lung injury.

Currently, 83 suspected vaping-related pulmonary cases in the state have been reported to the DPH since Sept. 11.

Among the 10 confirmed cases, 50% of patients are under the age of 20 while 30% are between the ages of 40 and 49. The remaining 20% are between the ages of 20 to 39.

Prior to the ban, it was still illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase vaping products.

>> MORE: Medical marijuana patients hoping Baker reconsiders vaping ban

Eight out of the 10 cases have been hospitalized and, contrary to the national average, 7 out of the 10 cases in the state are women. More than two-thirds of patients nationally are male.

Vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an ingredient found in marijuana, was reported in half of the 10 cases - while vaping THC and nicotine were reported in 40% of the cases; the remaining 10% reported vaping nicotine only.

Out of the 83 reported cases, 51 are still under investigation by state health officials.

In light of the recent vaping-related lung injuries and deaths nationwide, Governor Charlie Baker announced a public health emergency last week, promptly banning any and all vaping products for four months.

According to Baker, the ban was a necessary measure to be put in place while officials work to figure out what exactly is causing these injuries.

Days after the vaping ban went into effect across Mass., a new study showed recent testing of bootleg marijuana vapes show they're tainted with hydrogen cyanide.

Illegal vaping products have been highlighted as the main culprits in vaping-related illnesses nationwide, many containing dangerous chemicals and pesticides.

So far, investigators have not identified a particular electronic cigarette, vaping device, liquid or ingredient behind the outbreak. Officials say patients have mentioned using the THC cartridges under the name Dank Vapes, a black market THC product.

"Folks are getting it from friends or folks on the street, with no understanding of where it came from prior to that," said Dr. Jennifer Layden, chief medical officer for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

As of last week, the CDC had reported 805 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use or vaping as well as thirteen deaths nationwide.

Vape shop owners and vape enthusiasts are filing lawsuits against the state, claiming the emergency ban is unconstitutional because there was no process for them to have their say.

Shop owners say they were taken by surprise when the ban was announced, saying that, while they understand the health concerns, the legal products are not the issues.

"I do understand that it is a health risk but not for us," said Dana Chance, a vape shop owner. "I was not selling the products that were hurting these people."

Craig Rourke is an attorney working on a lawsuit along with several vape shops asking a judge to overturn the ban and reimburse the shops for lost business.

"There was not enough to information to trigger [Baker's] authority under the statute to issue the declaration," said Rourke. "And they were denied an opportunity for a public hearing so they could be heard, so they could exchange information, evidence and ideas and be part of the process."

The CDC is expected to collect two months worth of data, and at that point, Baker says he's hopeful the data will be able to provide some guidance into what could be causing the lung-related injuries.


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