Illinois Resident's Death Might Be First In U.S. Linked To Vaping

Illinois health officials said "an individual who had recently vaped and was ​hospitalized with severe respiratory illness" had died.

Illinois Resident's Death Might Be First In U.S. Linked To Vaping
Getty Images

Health officials are saying the recent death of an Illinois resident could be the first in the U.S. related to vaping.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday it had "learned of the death of an individual who had recently vaped and was hospitalized with [a] severe respiratory illness." It also said the number of cases reported to the agency of people being hospitalized with "respiratory symptoms" after using e-cigarettes or vaping had "doubled in the past week." Officials there say they've "requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help [them] investigate these cases."

The CDC acknowledged the Illinois resident's death in a statement on Friday, saying, "This tragic death in Illinois reinforces the serious risks associated with e-cigarette products. Vaping exposes users to many different substances for which we have little information about related harms." The CDC also said it's received nearly 200 reports from 22 states of "potential cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette product use" over the summer.

E-cigarettes are seen by some as a safer alternative to real cigarettes, but health officials say most of the devices still have nicotine, which is addictive. They're also concerned about how popular the devices are with kids. The CDC reports that in 2018, about 5 percent of middle school students and about 20 percent of high schoolers reported using e-cigarettes in the past month.

It's still unclear if vaping was the definitive cause for all of the cases, but the CDC still urges doctors to collect samples and ask patients about the devices, liquids, refill pods and cartridges they may be using.