A second person has died from a severe lung illness after vaping, according to a lead investigator on the case in Oregon. The investigator said that the person had apparently become sick after vaping T.H.C. from a product purchased from a recreational marijuana shop in the state.
The investigator, Dr. Ann Thomas, a pediatrician and public health physician who is leading Oregon’s incident management team, said the person died in July after being hospitalized and put on a ventilator. Dr. Thomas declined to identify the person or disclose the age or gender, but said the patient was “otherwise healthy and quickly became very ill.”
Dr. Thomas said that the doctor who treated the patient recognized several weeks later that the patient’s lung infection was consistent with a syndrome thought to be connected to vaping that has affected more than 200 people around the country this summer, according to federal health officials.
So far, one other patient is known to have died, an adult in Illinois, and this second death — more than a thousand miles away — underscores what public health authorities say is a serious and deeply puzzling surge in vaping-related illnesses.
Federal authorities from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have been working with state investigators to identify what toxin or substance might be causing the problem. Dr. Thomas, the Oregon investigator, echoed other authorities in saying that she has heard that many cases involve T.H.C., the high-inducing chemical in marijuana, but she cautioned that it is too soon to know for sure if marijuana-related vaping is a cause.
On Friday the C.D.C. warned people not to use vaping ingredients bought on the street, and to stop modifying either nicotine or cannabis e-cigarette devices.
The fact that the death in Oregon appears related to a legally purchased product raises questions about a theory that the products making people sick are counterfeit, jury-rigged or tampered with by consumers or retailers mixing their own vaping liquids.
“At this point,” Dr. Thomas said, “we’d say we don’t really know what is safe.”
“We need to keep finding ways to reach to public to do what it takes to keep young people safe,” she added, “I know that sounds a little dramatic but at this point we don’t know what’s causing it.”