A seventh person has died from a severe lung illness linked to vaping.
The Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency in central California confirmed the death Monday.
“With sadness, we report that there has been a death of a Tulare County resident suspected to be related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping,” Dr. Karen Haught, public health officer for Tulare County, California, said in a statement.
It’s the second such death reported in California. There have also been vaping-related deaths in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon.
At least several of the vaping-related deaths were adults who had other, underlying health conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there are at least 380 vaping-related respiratory illnesses in 36 states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands. There may be more cases across the country, but the CDC is counting only those that have been confirmed or are highly probable because all other causes of the lung infection have been ruled out by physicians.
Forty-four state health departments overall have reported investigations into more than 500 possible cases, illustrating the broader scope of the problem. Late Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health confirmed three cases, the state’s first. All of those patients are out of the hospital and recovering.
The surge in cases prompted the CDC to activate its emergency operations center on Monday. The move will allow CDC officials to allocate additional staff and resources to the nationwide investigation.
“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC’s director, said in a statement.
The agency has advised against using e-cigarettes and vaping devices, especially those bought off the street, as investigators have so far been unable to pinpoint any single product, ingredient or device as the source of the illnesses. Both nicotine and THC products have been implicated.
Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to ban non-tobacco flavored electronic cigarettes. Michigan was the first state to prohibit sales of most flavored e-cigarettes to curb the underage vaping epidemic.
The governors of California and New York also recently announced emergency plans to ban sales of the flavored devices.
It’s the fruity flavors that addiction experts say get teens and young adults hooked on vaping in the first place.