NEW YORK (AP) – US health officials have declared Friday a breakthrough in the cause of a mysterious vaping disease outbreak, saying they have a "very strong culprit".
The same compound was found in a fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The compound, Vitamin E acetate, was previously found in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many patients.
But this is the first time they have found a common suspect in the injured lungs of patients, officials said.
"We are in a better place in terms of a very strong culprit," said Dr. Anne Schuhat of the CDC.
Agency officials warned that they could not exclude all other toxic substances and you could take animal studies to make it clear that Vitamin E acetate was causing lung damage.
More than 2,000 Americans have become ill since March, many are teens and young adults, and at least 40 people have died. Most cases occurred in August and September, but new cases are still being reported.
Vitamin E acetate has only recently been used as a thickener in vacuum liquids, especially in black vape cartridges. While Vitamin E is safe as a vitamin pill or used on the skin, inhaling oily droplets of it can be harmful. It is sticky and remains in the lungs ̵
Many who became ill said they had emitted liquids containing THC, the highly inducing part of marijuana, with many saying they received it from friends or bought it on the black market.
Electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices heat fluid in the inhalation of vapor. Most products contain nicotine, but THC vaping is becoming more common.
Pirkle said that thickeners such as vitamin E acetate would probably not be routinely added to nicotine liquids, which should be more watery for vaping.
Juul Labs, maker of the best-selling e-cigarette brand, issued a statement after the CDC's announcement, noting that its nicotine products did not contain THC or any vitamin E. Compounds
Symptoms of vip disease include breathing problems, chest pain, fatigue and vomiting. Imaging tests show lung injuries and doctors cannot find infections or other causes.
About two months ago, New York drew attention to vitamin E acetate when the state public health laboratory discovered it in samples of vaping products from sick patients. In some cases, it makes up more than half of the liquid in the cartridges.
The chemical has also been shown in tests in other laboratories, including the Cincinnati-based Food and Drug Administration, which detects vitamin E acetate by more than 400 THC samples.
For the last test, the CDC used fluid extracted from the lungs of 29 patients in 10 conditions, including two deceased. Lab workers searched for a number of substances found in various vaping devices, including nicotine, THC and other marijuana components, vegetable oils, mineral oil and cutting agents used on the black market.
It was a comprehensive list of more than 1,000, said Pirkle, who heads the agency's chemical analysis labs.
The only substance that appeared in all 29 was Vitamin E acetate.
"What matters to me here is what they found and what they did," I can't find, said Scott Becker, head of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. "It was the only thing they found."
Robert Strongin of Portland State University, who researches e-cigarettes, welcomes the CDC report, but warned that this does not mean that other ingredients in vaping products are safe. "They can still cause long-term harm," he says.
CDC's Pirkle said animal testing was a priority and could produce results within a year.
"We really need animal research to remove cause and effect," he said.
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