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Vaping-related death reported in Tulare County

E-cigarettes
A woman smokes an electronic cigarette.
(Jim Watson / AFP-Getty Images)

An adult older than 40 from Tulare County has died from complications related to using an electronic cigarette, health officials confirmed Monday evening.

“With sadness, we report that there has been a death of a Tulare County resident suspected to be related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping,” Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County public health officer, said in a statement.

“The Tulare County Public Health Branch would like to warn all residents that any use of e-cigarettes poses a possible risk to the health of the lungs and can potentially cause severe lung injury that may even lead to death,” Haught said. “Long-term effects of vaping on health are unknown. Anyone considering vaping should be aware of the serious potential risk associated with vaping.”

A doctor had been treating the person, who had a history of vaping, for the last several weeks for a pulmonary respiratory illness, said Tammie Weyker-Adkins, a public information officer at Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency. The person had other “complicating health issues” but was being treated for the vaping-related illness, she said.

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The person’s death comes as an increasing number of cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarettes are being reported across the country. One L.A. County resident who was older than 55 and had other chronic health issues died recently from a severe lung illness believed to be caused by vaping, health officials confirmed in early September. At least 12 other L.A. County residents have been hospitalized with e-cigarette-related issues.

The California Department of Public Health has identified 70 potential cases of acute lung disease among people with a recent history of vaping, some of whom vaped unlicensed or unregulated cannabis products, beginning in late June, according to the agency.

As of Wednesday, 380 cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All patients have a reported history of e-cigarette product use, and no consistent evidence of an infectious cause has been discovered, according to the CDC. The suspected cause is a chemical exposure.

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On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to crack down on illicit e-cigarettes and launch a public awareness campaign about the dangers of vaping amid the outbreak.

The outbreak has resulted in public health officials urging the public to stop vaping until they’ve determined what is sickening people across the country.

“I just want people to be aware that there’s a serious risk associated with vaping, and that we don’t have an explanation for exactly how, but we know inhaling any unknown chemical products in your lungs is not healthy,” Haught said.

Times staff writers Soumya Karlamangla and Phil Willon contributed to this report.


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