on Friday , the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a series of reports. Indicating that the epidemic of vapor-related lung injuries appears to be subsiding as evidence accumulates that vitamin E acetate. A cutting agent used in marijuana cartridges, plays a role in the illnesses.
To date, 54 people have died and more than 2,500 have been hospitalized in the outbreak. Which began in the summer and has spread to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 2 U.S. territories.
In a telephone interview with reporters, Dr. Anne Schuchat, senior deputy director of the CDC, said evidence now suggests that vitamin E acetate was increasingly being added to cartridges containing THC . The high-producing compound in marijuana – beginning in June when the outbreak began to escalate.
Schuchat said that THC vaporization “largely explains” the sharp increase in acute cases that rose over the summer. But the findings do not mean that nicotine vaporization is entirely safe.
In a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, public health officials found that emergency room visits for lung injuries caused by nicotine vaporization rose sharply from June and peaked in September. Since then, emergency room visits have declined, but remain higher than at the start of the outbreak in June.
In a second report published in the New England Journal. Researchers report that additional testing of lung samples taken from people with vapor-induced injuries reinforces previous studies that indicated vitamin E acetate was likely responsible for the outbreak.
The study, which involved lung samples from patients in 16 states. Found vitamin E acetate in 94 % of lung samples from patients who had experienced THC escape.
In a separate study in the CDC’s Weekly Mortality and Morbidity Report, of the 2,409 people whose cases were reported to the CDC as of December 10, 31 patients who had been discharged became ill again and had to be readmitted to the hospital, and seven people died shortly after discharge.
Patients who became ill after discharge generally had a history of heart disease, respiratory problems, and diabetes. Those who died after discharge were more likely to be 50 years of age or older.
So, in these cases, the CDC now recommends that patients be clinically stable at the time of discharge and that they follow up with a physician within two days of discharge. Previous CDC guidelines called for a two-week follow-up.