JACKSON • The Mississippi State Department of Health reported the state’s first vaping associated death Thursday morning.
Citing federal privacy laws, the state health department only identified the patient as an individual under 30.
The state health department has identified four cases of serious lung injury related to vaping, all in individuals between 18 and 34 years of age.
Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley had requested an autopsy of a 27-year-old Smithville woman because of suspicions that her death is related to vaping. On Thursday morning, Gurley said he had not yet received notification from the State Medical Examiner’s Office.
Mississippi is part of a national investigation into severe pulmonary disease or lung injury linked to the use of e-cigarette products, commonly called vaping. As of Sept. 19, the Centers for Disease Control said there have been 530 cases of lung illness reported from 38 states and one U.S. territory. Seven deaths have been reported from six states.
“Any death related to vaping is one too many, and this is entirely preventable,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We grieve with the family over this loss, and our hopes are that this helps emphasize how serious the dangers of vaping can be.”
Many of the cases in the U.S. report vaping cannabis products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, and some have reported only vaping nicotine products. However, no specific product such as the device, liquid, refill pods or cartridge has been clearly identified as the cause of illness.
In Mississippi, three of the four cases indicate a history of THC vaping, said Liz Sharlot, communications director for the state health department
Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said that serious lung injury from vaping has become a national epidemic that healthcare partners across the country are trying to address.
“I think we are just now starting to see some of the dangerous health outcomes of vaping,” Dobbs said. “There is still so much we don’t know. It’s uncharted territory.”
Symptoms of severe vaping-related lung illness include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fever and fatigue. Symptoms develop anywhere from over a few days of use to weeks of using e-cigarettes.
Mississippians are urged to not buy products off the street containing THC or other cannabinoids. Do not modify or add substances to e-cigarette products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
Until an exact cause of the illness has been determined, the CDC recommends the following actions:
• If you are concerned about the health risks, consider refraining from using e-cigarettes or vaping products.
• If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.
• If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and you have symptoms like those reported above, see your healthcare provider.