We know almost nothing about why 23 people have died, but experts say we need to find solutions to more than one problem
In the midst of the the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigation into the vaping-related health crisis, which has claimed 23 lives in the United States as of this week, media coverage of the epidemic has been virtually nonstop. Patients in more than two dozen states have been presenting at hospitals throughout the country with symptoms such as coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath, as well as nausea, vomiting, and fever in some cases. What’s worse, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the C.D.C, said in a media briefing last week that the epidemic shows few signs of slowing down: to date, more than 1,100 cases of vaping-related illness have been reported nationwide, and Schuchat said that the epidemic is “continuing at a brisk pace.”
But even two months into the nationwide investigation, the cold hard truth is that we know little more about the culprit than we did when it started. “We know almost nothing about this right now,” Dr. Peter Shields, lung medical oncologist and deputy director of Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, tells Rolling Stone.
From a public health investigation standpoint, part of the issue is purely logistical: it’s been difficult for state health departments to collect and test all of the relevant samples, many of which may have been thrown out prior to a patient presenting with symptoms (or may not have been provided to doctors to begin with). But the larger issue, says Shields, is that this is a complex and multi-pronged public health discussion. “I see it as three trains on three parallel train tracks,” he says. “One of the trains is what’s going on right now, with these people getting really sick, really fast. The second train is the long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes or THC cigarettes… and the third train is kids and flavors.” [Read More @ Rolling Stone]