76-Year Old San Diego Woman Dies From Vaping-Related Condition

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PHOTO: Medical-R / Shutterstock.com

SAN DIEGO – A 76-year old woman was reported to have died of EVALI, the mysterious vaping-related condition that swept through the United States in 2019. Her May 24 death is the first vaping-related fatality recorded in San Diego County since the condition first was discovered.

Media reports did not indicate if the woman had used cannabis or tobacco vaping products.

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The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported last Thursday that in recent weeks, in addition to the fatality, three “young adults” had been diagnosed with vaping related-lung injuries. Officials confirmed the patients had tested negative for novel coronavirus. The new EVALI cases are the first reported in San Diego County this year.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors in January approved restrictions on flavored smoking products and vaping devices, which is scheduled to take effect as of July 1.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spearheaded an investigation into EVALI last year, as more than 2,800 cases were diagnosed, resulting in hospitalizations and at least 68 deaths. Cases were reported in every U.S. state, including the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Medical investigators indicated that the condition might arise from a reaction to ingredient vitamin E acetate, commonly used to add volume to cannabis oil cartridges, as well as in topical and consumable products. The experts speculated that super-heating vitamin E acetate, as occurs in the vaping process, could cause the lung damage evident in EVALI cases.

At the height of the EVALI epidemic, officials issued warnings against vaping, especially use of flavored or illicit products obtained from unlicensed, unregulated vendors. The mysterious condition chilled the vape market for both cannabis and tobacco, as jurisdictions imposed new restrictions on products.

As of February, reported cases had largely tapered off; the CDC stopped weekly updates to its EVALI webpage on Feb 18.

The new EVALI cases emerge during an unprecedented global pandemic, since the COVID-19 virus spread to various hot spots, starting in mid-March.

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