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Nashville Man’s Death is Tennessee’s First from Vaping-Related Illness

An adult man in Nashville is the first person to die of vaping-related illness in Tennessee, city and state health officials announced on Thursday.

The death of the man, who has not been publicly identified, is under investigation by the Tennessee Department of Health and the Nashville Metro Public Health Department. New releases said the man’s death was “recent,” but no date was provided.

At least 53 people in Tennessee – mostly adolescents and young adults – have exhibited symptoms of vapingrelated illnesses, according to the state government. This tally is part of a nationwide outbreak that has sickened 1,299 people and killed 26, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

No single vaping product or ingredient has been identified as a cause of the outbreak. City, state and federal health officials have urged the public to stop vaping until the cause is understood.

“Nashville’s first death and reports of severe pulmonary illnesses outbreaks associated with vaping nationwide should be a warning about the risks of severe lung injury from using these products” said Sanmi Areola, Nashville’s interim health director. “We will continue to monitor and investigate reports of illnesses and urge everyone to consider not using e-cigarettes and follow guidance from the CDC.”

Symptoms of vaping-related illness include coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain, which sometimes grow worse over a period of days. Other symptoms may include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Some teenagers who have been treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have suffered permanent lung damage and one had to be put on a breathing machine, hospital officials have said.

Although this outbreak has gripped headlines for months, an explanation has eluded experts. Many of the vaping- illness cases have been linked to ecigarettes containing THC, and some theories point to vaping cartridges that may have been sold or re-filled on the black market.

E-cigarettes containing THC are illegal in Tennessee, but nicotine vaping is common. One quarter of Davidson County adults have reported vaping at least once and about 6.6% use vaping products regularly, according to a NashvilleHealth survey released last month. Among Nashvillians between the ages of 18 and 29, more reported vaping than smoking, the survey said.

“We are extremely saddened by this loss of life and extend our sincere condolences to the patient’s family,” said state Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey. “We are working with partners across the country to investigate these cases of vaping-associated illness in Tennessee, and recommend Tennesseans consider refraining from using e-cigarettes or vaping while this investigation is underway.”

Brett Kelman is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-259-8287 or at brett.kelman@ Follow him on Twitter at @brettkelman.

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