CDC confirms 33 deaths from vaping-related lung injury as Juul pulls flavors like Mango and Creme

A lot has happened since the first reports of the mysterious, deadly lung illness linked to vaping first trickled out of Wisconsin late July. One of the companies believed to be at the forefront of a spike in e-cigarette use, Juul, has suspended sales of its fruity flavors. Meanwhile, multiple states have begun enacting their own vaping bans, and First Lady Melania Trump has hosted a forum on vaping with teens at the White House.

But as lawmakers and regulatory agencies scramble to figure out what exactly went wrong, health officials are focused on what can be done to stop it. On Thursday afternoon, that mission took on new urgency with the release of new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which show the total number of lung injury cases linked to e-cigarettes or vaping products has now reached 1,479, extending to every state but Alaska. Perhaps most alarmingly, the death rate for the illness continues to climb, with the CDC confirming 33 deaths in 24 states thus far. The vast majority of those affected remain male (70 percent) and close to 80 percent are under 35.

As of this week, the CDC has officially given the illness a name: EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. Doctors say the illness can resemble pneumonia, with common symptoms including severe cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. In the majority of cases, those who have experienced the illness felt a sudden onset of symptoms so severe that it led to hospitalization.

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Employee at Cloud 10, an e-cigarette store in Simi Valley, CA, demonstrates the type of smoke, with no smell, comes out of an electric cigarette. Sales are Booming at this store.

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A customer exhales vapor while smoking an electric cigarette at the Betamorph E-Cigs store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. Sales in the U.S. vapor-device market are projected to rise by 21% annually through 2020, based on Euromonitor Passport data.

(Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

An e-cigarette store in Simi Valley, CA, called Cloud 10, displays various types of electric cigarettes juice flavors for sale. Sales are Booming at this store.

(Lynne Gilbert via Getty Images)

Indonesian teenager exhaling smoke from Electric Cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as seen in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia on December 5, 2014 night. Electric cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are increasingly popular in Indonesia, especially among teenagers. In fact, cigarettes are actually more harmful than regular cigarettes with an increasing number of patients with poisoning after using electronic cigarettes and nicotine liquid continues to increase. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes, electronic cigarette brand has been produced in 466, 8,000 taste, spending budget of US $ 3 billion.

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Gdynia, Poland 29th, Dec. 2015 Polish Ministry of Health plans to ban electronic cigarettes sales to persons under the age of 18, restrictions on advertising and promotion and to introduce to them technical requirements. The new Tobacco Control law will come into force in the 2nd quarter of 2016. Pictured: Lady smokes electronic cigarette.

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Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand smokes an electric cigarette during day two of the World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath Golf Club on November 25, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.

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Electric cigarette 'juice' w/various flavors.This is at Cloud 10 in Simi Valley, CA This brand is the most popular at this store. Santa Monica just passed the law no e-cigarettes allowed anywhere. Business is booming at this location.

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Mitchell Baker who works at the Vapour Place a vaping shop in Bedminster, exhales vapour produced by an e-cigarette on December 30, 2016 in Bristol, England. Recent figures released by the e-cigarette industry has claimed that there as many as 1700 vaping shops across the country, with two new ones opening each day catering for the estimated three million vapers in the UK. The popularity of e-cigarettes has boomed in the last ten years, as it is seen by many as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, however some critics say the devices can carry the same risks as smoking especially as the long term affects are yet to be known.

(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

E-cigarette merchandise is displayed for sale at the Vapour Place a vaping shop in Bedminster, on December 30, 2016 in Bristol, England. Recent figures released by the e-cigarette industry has claimed that there as many as 1700 vaping shops across the country, with two new ones opening each day catering for the estimated three million vapers in the UK. The popularity of e-cigarettes has boomed in the last ten years, as it is seen by many as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, however some critics say the devices can carry the same risks as smoking especially as the long term affects are yet to be known.

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A reveller dressed in a Father Christmas costume smokes from an electronic cigarette device as he takes part in Santacon outside Euston Station on December 10, 2016 in London, England. Santacon is an annual parade taking place in cities around the world and sees revellers dressed in Father Christmas costumes take to the streets to spread seasonal cheer.

(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Flavored vape juice bottles are displayed for sale at the Betamorph E-Cigs store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. Sales in the U.S. vapor-device market are projected to rise by 21% annually through 2020, based on Euromonitor Passport data.

(Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A woman smokes an electronic cigarette during the Vapexpo 2015 Moscow, at Sokolniki Exhibition Center on December 05, 2015, in Moscow, Russia.

(Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

This picture taken on November 19, 2015 shows bottles of concentrated flavors displayed at a vape shop in Kuala Lumpur. Vaping' is soaring in popularity in Malaysia, the largest e-cigarette market in the Asia-Pacific region, but authorities are threatening to ban the habit in for health reasons -- a move that has sparked anger from growing legions of aficionados.

(MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A man smokes an E-Cigarette in the Vape Lab coffee bar, on August 27, 2014 in London, England. The Department of Health have ruled out the outlawing of 'e-cigs' in enclosed spaces in England, despite calls by WHO, The World Health Organisation to do so. WHO have recommended a ban on indoor smoking of e-cigs as part of tougher regulation of products dangerous to children.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

This picture taken on November 19, 2015 shows a worker (R) inspecting a coil, the metal heating element in an e-cigarette that produces vapour from e-juices, at a vape shop in Kuala Lumpur. Vaping' is soaring in popularity in Malaysia, the largest e-cigarette market in the Asia-Pacific region, but authorities are threatening to ban the habit in for health reasons -- a move that has sparked anger from growing legions of aficionados.

(MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman smokes an electronic cigarette during the Vapexpo 2015 Moscow, at Sokolniki Exhibition Center on December 05, 2015, in Moscow, Russia.

(Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A customer smokes an E-Cigarette at Digital Ciggz on January 28, 2015 in San Rafael, California. The California Department of Public Health released a report today that calls E-Cigarettes a health threat and suggests that they should be regulated like regular cigarettes and tobacco products.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

E-Cigarettes are sold at the V-Revolution E-Cigarette shop in Covent Garden on August 27, 2014 in London, England. The Department of Health have ruled out the outlawing of 'e-cigs' in enclosed spaces in England, despite calls by WHO, The World Health Organisation to do so. WHO have recommended a ban on indoor smoking of e-cigs as part of tougher regulation of products dangerous to children.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

In this photo illustration, a man smokes an E-Cigarette at the V-Revolution E-Cigarette shop in Covent Garden on August 27, 2014 in London, England. The Department of Health have ruled out the outlawing of 'e-cigs' in enclosed spaces in England, despite calls by WHO, The World Health Organisation to do so. WHO have recommended a ban on indoor smoking of e-cigs as part of tougher regulation of products dangerous to children.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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On Tuesday, the New York Times shared the story of a 22-year-old college student who found himself on “the verge of death” after smoking THC vape products from the dark web. “It was terrible,” the student’s mother told the Times. “I will never forget the doctor’s face. I prayed, ‘Please, God, don’t let him go.’” Another student in Colorado shared a similar story with CBS “This Morning” In September, saying that vaping is not worth “seeing your parents cry as you are in a hospital bed.”

Although much of the focus in recent weeks has been on black market THC products (the majority of those with EVALI have reportedly used THC products), a new study this week from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center published in the journal of Cancer Prevention Research found that e-cigarettes may carry longterm health risks of their own. “New research data suggests that even short-term e-cig use can cause cellular inflammation in never-smoker adults,” the authors conclude. “Inflammation from smoking is an important driver of lung cancer and other respiratory disease development.”

In an announcement shared with Yahoo Lifestyle, Juul said that its decision to remove its non-menthol flavored pods (specifically Mint, Creme, Mango and Fruit) comes in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s concerns about the safety of their product. “We must reset the vapor category by earning the trust of society and working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers,” said Juul.

Until a specific cause of the outbreak has been identified, the CDC is recommending that Americans avoid e-cigarettes and vaping products at all costs. “I can’t stress enough the seriousness of these lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products,” Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC, said in a recent press conference. “This is a critical issue. And even while we learn more, we need to take steps to prevent additional cases. We are not seeing a meaningful drop-off in new cases.”

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