Vaping illnesses are down – only because of new accounting, CDC says

The most recent tally of breathing illnesses linked to vaping is not as daunting as a week ago, but that’s mostly due to a difference in how they’re counted, not to a new breakthrough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday listed the latest number of lung disease cases at 380 nationwide, down from 450 last Friday. The total of deaths remained at six.

The CDC said the larger figure, which drew widespread attention and prompted President Donald Trump to call for a crackdown on flavored e-cigarettes, represented the amount of reported cases under investigation. The downgraded total accounts for confirmed and probable cases.

What the experts say:Vaping lung illness: What we know about the recent spate of cases and deaths

The outbreak, with reported instances in 36 states and one U.S. territory, is still serious enough that the CDC recommends for the public to abstain from using vaping products, and for those with symptoms to see a doctor.

The observed symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever and abdominal pain, and they’ve typically developed over a period of days or weeks.

In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Oregon's public health physician said Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, that a person who contracted a severe respiratory illness and died after using an e-cigarette had purchased a vaping device containing marijuana oil at a state-legal dispensary.

The center said the outbreak does not seem to be caused by an infection, and the leading suspect is chemical exposure.

Although no single substance or product has been pinpointed for the illnesses, most patients have said they used e-cigarettes with THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Many also said they were vaping nicotine, with or without THC.

Trump held a policy discussion on vaping Wednesday and, afterward, said he will seek to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavored products in an effort to get young people to give up e-cigarettes.