First vaping-related death confirmed in Mississippi

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has confirmed Mississippi’s first vaping-associated death. The only detail provided about the individual who passed away was that they were under the age of 30.

So far, Mississippi has four identified cases of serious lung injury related to vaping, all in individuals between 18 and 34 years of age. [MSDH’s age range reporting has been changed to match statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).]

Mississippi is part of a national investigation into severe pulmonary disease or lung injury linked to the use of e-cigarette products (vaping). Nationwide, as of September 19, there had been 530 cases of lung illness reported from 38 states and one U.S. territory. Seven deaths have been reported from six states.

“Any death related to vaping is one too many, and this is entirely preventable,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We grieve with the family over this loss, and our hopes are that this helps emphasize how serious the dangers of vaping can be.”

Byers said that many of the cases in the U.S. report vaping cannabis products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), some have reported only vaping nicotine products. However, no specific product such as the device, liquid, refill pods or cartridge has been clearly identified as the cause of illness.

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said that serious lung injury from vaping has become a national epidemic that healthcare partners across the country are trying to address.

“I think we are just now starting to see some of the dangerous health outcomes of vaping,” said Dr. Dobbs. “There is still so much we don’t know. It’s uncharted territory.”

Symptoms of severe vaping-related lung illness include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fever and fatigue. Symptoms develop anywhere from over a few days of use to weeks of using e-cigarettes.

Until an exact cause of the illness has been determined, the CDC recommends the following actions:

  • If you are concerned about the health risks, consider refraining from using e-cigarettes or vaping products.
  • If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.
  • If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and you have symptoms like those reported above, see your healthcare provider.
  • Additionally, Mississippians are urged to not buy products off the street containing THC or other cannabinoids. Do not modify or add substances to e-cigarette products that are not intended by the manufacturer.