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Seventh Person To Die From Vaping-Related Illness in U.S. Dies in California

Madeleine Carlisle

An individual in California has died from a vaping-related illness, bringing the total number of vaping-related deaths in the U.S. up to seven since the end of August.

“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 Monday. Tammie Weyker, an administrative specialist for Tulare County’s Health and Human Services Agency, tells TIME that the resident was over 40-years-old.

As of Sept. 11, the Center for Disease Control had identified 380 confirmed and probable cases of lung disease associated with vaping in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. On Monday that CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to enhance their investigation into cases of vaping-related illnesses.

The first confirmed vaping-related death was reported on Aug. 23 in Illinois. Since then people have died from respiratory illnesses related to vaping in Oregon, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas, and another case in California.

On Sept. 3, Oregon Health Authority officials said the symptoms of the patient who died were “consistent with those of more than 200 similar cases in a national cluster of respiratory illness, mostly affecting teenagers and young adults, in at least 25 states.”

“We don’t yet know the exact cause of these illnesses — whether they’re caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something else, such as the device itself,” Ann Thomas, M.D., public health physician at OHA’s Public Health Division, said in the statement.

Health officials said that the patients who died in Kansas and Minnesota were over the age of 50 and 65, respectively. The patient who died in Indiana was also an adult, per health officials.

Haught warned Tulare County residents that the use of e-cigarettes — or vapes — pose a risk to lung health that could cause severe injury and even lead to death. She added that the longterm effects of vaping are still unknown.