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Vaping-related lung illness shows no signs of letting up as deaths surge to 26



The outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses is showing no signs of letting up as the number of cases rose to 1,299, with 26 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

That’s an increase of 219 cases and seven deaths since last week.

The rise was even more dramatic in Michigan, where an additional 12 cases, including the state’s first death, were reported during the same period, bringing the total to 35, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Public health officials are scrambling to determine the cause of the illness. Although no product or substance has been identified, most patients reported vaping THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Researchers are increasingly focusing on vitamin E acetate, which is used predominately in the black market to “cut” the cannabis oil to maximize profits.

Michigan health officials cautioned against all vaping until more is known about the cause.

“Once a cause has been determined for the vaping-related lung injury cases, MDHHS will determine next steps to further protect Michiganders,” MDHHS spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin tells Metro Times. “At this time, our focus continues to be working with local, state and federal partners on the investigation.”

The lung illnesses are unrelated to the state's ban on flavored nicotine vaping, according to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. Khaldun said Wednesday that the impetus for the ban was the rapid rise of youth vaping. 

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