Health officials in Illinois said Friday that a person who was hospitalized with lung problems after vaping has died in what might be the first death linked to e-cigarettes and similar devices in the United States.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement that the unidentified individual, who was between 17 and 38 years old, had been hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness shortly after vaping.
"The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said Friday.
In Illinois alone, health officials said at least 22 people between the ages of 17 and 38 have experienced respiratory illnesses after vaping. Officials with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived Tuesday in Illinois to help state health officials investigate, Ezike said.
In a statement released Wednesday, officials with the CDC said that between June 28 and Aug. 20, nearly 150 cases of severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes were reported in 15 states.
Health officials continue to investigate the illnesses. According to the CDC, no specific product or compound has been linked to all of the cases and it remained unclear Friday whether the cases shared a common cause.
Poison control officials have been concerned about exposure to vaping products, including e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine, in recent years due to the high concentration of nicotine when compared with other tobacco products, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Association officials said that as of July 31, poison control centers have managed 2,439 cases connected to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine this year. Last year, officials fielded 2,470 such cases, according to figures from the association.