HCN News & Notes

DPH Announces State’s Second Death from Vaping-associated Lung Injury

BOSTON — A second person has died of a vaping-associated lung injury, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced. The patient, a woman in her 40s from Middlesex County who vaped nicotine, is among more than 200 suspected vaping-associated lung injury patients that have been reported to DPH since September, when Massachusetts began requiring clinicians to immediately report to the department any unexplained lung injury in a patient with a history of vaping.

Earlier this month, DPH reported the state’s first death from a vaping-associated lung injury, a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County who also vaped nicotine.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of a second patient from this lung injury,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “While we continue to work with our federal partners to investigate the cause of these vaping-associated lung injuries, we cannot at this time attribute a single substance or product to this outbreak of illness.”

Gov. Charlie Baker declared a public-health emergency on Sept. 24 and temporarily banned the sale of vaping products and devices, in response to the growing number of cases of severe lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes and cannabis and nicotine-vaping products in Massachusetts and nationally.

Since the state began mandating the reporting of vaping-associated lung injuries on Sept. 11, DPH has received 204 reports from clinicians of suspected vaping-associated lung injuries. Of those 204 reports, 20 confirmed and 41 probable cases have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DPH will report this second confirmed death from a vaping-associated lung injury to the CDC next week. 

Clinicians are asked to report any individual experiencing otherwise unexplained progressive symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough, or weight loss, of any severity, and an abnormal chest-imaging study, who also reports vaping within the 90 days prior to the onset of symptoms.