The new cases which involved ages ranging from 14 to 46, all reported a history of vaping, with most involving THC.
The state health department sent an alert to health care providers statewide about the 11 new suspected cases, on July 24th. Since EVALI symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19, diagnosing the condition has now become more difficult. To this effect, anyone seeking care for symptoms including cough and shortness of breath, are first being tested for the virus.
MDH State Epidemiologist and Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield, said that the cases which involved ages ranging from 14 to 46, all reported a history of vaping, with most involving THC. She added that as in last year’s cases, she suspects that illicit THC products are playing a main role.
In November 2019, the CDC had confirmed that the outbreak of EVALI, is almost certainly not linked with vaping legal nicotine products. Testing the lung fluids from 29 of the case patients, the agency had found that all 29 contained vitamin E acetate, also known as Tocopheryl acetate.
Some EVALI patients are reluctant to admit to vaping THC
In line with this, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last September, researchers had emphasized that while in a small percentage of the cases under investigation, the participants claimed to use only nicotine not THC, it is highly likely that for obvious reasons they may have been reluctant to admit to using illegal drugs. Subsequently, the aforementioned CDC report had confirmed just that.
“This is significant because although not all of the case patients admitted to using THC vapes, the finding of vitamin E acetate in their lungs essentially proves that they were indeed vaping THC oils,” said Siegel referring to the CDC report. “This does not mean that they were lying; they may simply not have known what was in the product they were vaping, especially since most of these products are purchased off the black market or obtained from friends or dealers.”