Missouri Man Becomes Eighth Person in Country to Die From Vaping-Related Illness

He was first vaping-related death in state

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September 19, 2019 - 1:55 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — The state health department announced Thursday Missouri's first vaping-related death.

The death of a Missouri man in his mid-40s happened this week at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. It represents the eighth death in the nation associated with vaping.

Related: First death from vaping in Illinois has local physicians concerned

The statement from Mercy and the Department of Health and Senior Services says the man started vaping to deal with chronic pain but doesn't specify what he was using — whether it was nicotine, THC from a legal dispensary somewhere or THC from a black market street vendor.

The statement said the man had normal lung function prior to May 2019. He then developed mild respiratory symptoms that worsened, leading to hospitalization on Aug. 22 before being transferred to Mercy St. Louis on Sept. 4.

Related: Illinois teen's lungs are like 'a 70-year-old's' from vaping

“This is an unfortunate case of a young man with no prior lung illness who started vaping because of chronic pain issues,” Dr. Michael Plisco said in a statement. He is the Mercy critical care pulmonologist and medical director of Mercy’s extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program. “He started out with shortness of breath and it rapidly progressed and deteriorated, developing into what is called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Once the lungs are injured by vaping, we don’t know how quickly it worsens and if it depends on other risk factors.”

DHSS says the illness associated with vaping is not infectious, meaning it doesn't spread from person to person, however, these lung illnesses are likely related to chemical exposure from vaping. Patients report e-cigarette use and similar symptoms including:

  • Cough, shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, fever, or weight loss
  • Elevated heart rate

For more information from DHSS, click here.

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