One person has died from lung injuries associated with vaping, state Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine announced Friday.
Officials from the PA Department of Health aren’t disclosing any other details about the death, as when or where it occurred, but did say that they reported to the federal agency on Thursday.
According to a press release, Pennsylvania has reported nine confirmed and 12 probable cases of lung illness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is investigating an additional 63 cases. Each patient has suffered serious lung injuries and most have been hospitalized.
“The lung injury cases are very serious, life-threatening and even fatal,” Dr. Levine said. “We do not yet know what is making people sick, and whether the illnesses are related to products being used, or potentially the delivery of those products. I strongly urge everyone who is vaping illegally bought products, in particular, those with THC, to stop.”
In September, health officials confirmed that among the tainted carts are ones with the brand names Chronic Carts, Dank Vapes, and West Coast Carts, but said the condition is linked to multiple illicit market brands across multiple states.
Also in September, grower/processors and dispensaries in PA responded with announcements to assure their clients that their products are safe and Dispense spoke with Jahan Marcu, Phd., a renowned cannabis researcher and author, and Founder and Chief Scientific Officer for The International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health (IRCCMH), who warned against the use of illicit black market vape products.
During the press conference, Dr. Levine urged users to exercise caution vaping in general and advised those who are part of the PA Medical Marijuana Program to talk to their doctors and/or dispensary pharmacists before continuing to use vape products.
“There could be possible risks with legally purchased products,” she said. “We want to warn people that investigations are ongoing and we advise they use extreme caution before using any vaping product at this time.
“Many medications carry risk and vaping medical marijuana products sold in our dispensaries carries risk in the same way that other medications do,” Dr. Levine said. “If you are vaping, whether as part of the medical marijuana program or not, it is essential that you have an honest conversation with your physician about the potential risk for serious illness. For those who are part of the medical marijuana program and have concerns, we encourage you to talk to your physician or the pharmacist at the dispensary to determine if a transition to another medication will continue to meet their needs.”
The department is continuing to work with the Poison Control Centers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration as part of this widespread investigation.
Dispense will continue to stay on top of this story and will report back with updated information and any announcements from PA grower/processors and dispensaries.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to this illness, please talk to your doctor or visit your nearest emergency room.