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  • The CDC is investigating at least 450 possible cases of vape-related illnesses in 33 states across the US.
  • The illnesses have claimed at least five lives already.
  • Business Insider put together a timeline of the spate of vape-related illnesses.
  • For more stories go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

The mysterious spate of vaping-related illnesses and deaths continues to grow.

On Friday the Center for Disease Control announced that at least 450 possible cases of vape-related illnesses have been reported in 33 states across the US. The illnesses have reportedly claimed at least five lives already, and doctors and other health experts fear their could be more on the way.

"While the investigation is ongoing, CDC has advised that individuals consider not using e-cigarettes, because as of now, this is the primary means of preventing the severe lung disease," Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman of the CDC said on a Friday press call, reports Business Insider's Hilary Brueck.

While it's not yet clear what exactly is causing these illnesses, it seems to affect younger people - mostly men - who are vaporizing cannabinoids like THC.

The culprit, according to some experts, are chemicals like vitamin-E acetate that are used to emulsify THC and CBD in illegal, unregulated vaporizers.

"Even if most lung-injury cases are traced to chemicals used to emulsify THC or CBD into illegal vaping "juices," it doesn't let legally sold, nicotine-based e-cigs off the hook. They must do more to ensure safety of their products by engaging review process and ending youth use," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, said on Friday.

"Legitimate e-liquids are generally based on chemicals that are water-soluble, not oils that can cause acute lung injury. High levels of vitamin E acetate were found in nearly all cannabis-containing vapes tested by NYS Department of Health. Nobody should use illegal vape products," Gottlieb said.

Here's what officials knew when. We'll update this as more information comes to light:


August 17:

CDC officials say they are actively investigating almost 94 cases of vape-related illnesses in 14 states. That number would grow to 200 cases in 22 states.

Officials haven't yet determined the specific causes of the illness, but it is thought that oils and chemicals used to emulsify THC, CBD, and nicotine in illicit vapes is to blame.


August 23:

The first vape-related death is reported in Illinois.

The person, who has remained unnamed, was hospitalised with severe breathing difficulties, according to officials. He was reportedly using e-cigarettes to consume nicotine.


September 3:

Oregon's Health Authority says it is actively investigating the death of an individual with a severe respiratory illness following the use of an e-cigarette.

While officials have not yet determined the root cause of the middle-aged person's illness, he had reportedly fallen ill after vaporizing marijuana oil purchased at a legal cannabis dispensary, reports The Associated Press.


September 4:

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, writes an editorial in The Washington Post urging federal officials to take action in investigating the causes of these illnesses and deaths.

"Bright lines must be drawn between less-harmful ingredients and those that cause undue risk. That would arm regulators with the information to crack down on illegal and dangerous vape juices. It's also time to end the political ambivalence that allows THC and CBD to evade oversight," Gottlieb wrote.


September 6:

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Indiana health officials confirm a third vape-related death. Shortly afterward, officials in Minnesota confirm a fourth, and then a fifth in California.

Like the other deaths, officials have yet to determine a root cause. However, the 65-year old Minnesota man had a history of lung disease. He fell ill after vaping an "illicit" THC product, The New York Times reports.


September 6:

Acting FDA Chief Ned Sharpless says "Our investigation into the concerning reports of respiratory illness and deaths associated w/ vaping is a top priority for FDA and our federal, state, local health partners. We're working tirelessly to gather and analyze information about these incidents," on Twitter.

Sen. Minority Whip Dick Durbin pushed Sharpless to act quicker in a letter addressed to Sharpless on Friday.

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