HCN News & Notes

State Public Health Officials Announce Third Death from Vaping-associated Lung Injury

BOSTON — A third person has died of a vaping-associated lung injury, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced. The patient, a man in his 50s from Worcester County, reported vaping both nicotine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an ingredient found in marijuana. The patient is among more than 200 suspected vaping-associated lung-injury patients that have been reported to DPH since September, when Massachusetts clinicians were mandated to report any unexplained lung injury in a patient with a history of vaping to the department.

Last month, DPH reported the state’s first two deaths from a vaping-associated lung injury, a  woman in her 40s from Middlesex County and a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, both of whom vaped nicotine.

“My condolences go out to the family of this patient who has died from a vaping-associated lung injury,’’ said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “This disease is serious and potentially fatal, and we are continuing to investigate the cause.”

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.

Massachusetts clinicians are asked to report to DPH 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 report vaping within 90 days before the onset of symptoms.

In an updated DPH clinical advisory sent this week to Massachusetts clinicians, those who identify a patient with vaping-associated lung injury should ask the patient to retain any vaping material, including the device and any partially used vaping product. Patients determined to be confirmed or probable cases will be contacted to see if their products meet the criteria for testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.