Maryland health officials are now requiring doctors and others to report information about cases of vaping-relating lung injuries to get a better handle on the mysterious illnesses.
The state has now recorded 23 cases, but reporting had been voluntary, according to the Maryland Department of Health. There have been 805 cases reported in 46 states and one U.S. territory and 12 deaths, none in Maryland, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC hasn’t determined a cause for the illnesses and is recommending people refrain from using vaping devices, which involve heating liquid containing nicotine into aerosols that can be inhaled.
The CDC said the latest finding suggest a link to THC, the main psychoactive element in marijuana.
The agency has created a definition of the illness to make sure states uniformly count cases. The determinations are made by reviewing medical records.
The reporting directive in Maryland is signed by state Health Secretary Robert R. Neall and is effective immediately. Doctors, other health providers and local health departments are now required to report information about cases of vaping-related lung injuries to the Maryland Department of Health.
“It is necessary for all instances of lung injuries suspected to be related to the use of vaping devices to be reported for MDH to determine the full extent of this outbreak and of the danger to the public health,” the order says.
The health providers must also provide information on “appropriate measures to prevent further injury."
The CDC reports that the majority of patients with vaping-related illness are male. About two-thirds are age 18 to 34, though 22% are 18-21. About 16% are under age 18. All have a history of vaping and 77 percent report using THC-containing products.