Nebraska death from vaping-related illness brings national toll to 14

A Nebraska man has become the 14th person to die in the nationwide vaping-related epidemic, officials said Monday.

The man, who was only identified as over 65 and from Douglas County, succumbed to a lung illness linked to e-cigarettes in May, before the multi-state outbreak was officially reported, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

“Prior to the outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping … this past August, vaping-associated lung injuries were unreported and not tracked by public health agencies,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, the agency’s infectious disease specialist.

“Once the problem was recognized, states quickly ramped up surveillance and found current cases, but have also discovered cases that occurred before the August outbreak,” added Safranek.

The newly reported Nebraska death comes after three victims in the national spate of e-smoking fatalities were revealed last week in Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

In addition to those cases, two deaths were reported in California, two in Kansas, two in Oregon, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Missouri, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 64 people in New York state have been sickened by vape products and more than 800 have fallen ill nationwide.

Nebraska has 11 cases of such illnesses, and two under investigation, the state’s health department said. The majority of those afflicted are men ranging in age from their late teens to late 60s, it said.

Over the summer, health officials in several states began noticing reports of people with severe lung diseases — with the only common factor being that the patients had all recently vaped. As a national investigation began, the number of reported vaping-related illnesses soared.

Most patients have said they used products containing THC, the ingredient that produces a high in marijuana.

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