First vaping-related death in Nebraska brings national death toll to at least 15

The state's first vaping death comes amid more than 800 cases of the lung illness that have been reported across the country.

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By Doha Madani

A vaping-related death in Nebraska has brought the national death toll from lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use to at least 15 people.

The state's first vaping death comes amid more than 800 cases of the lung illness that have been reported across the country. Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services did not identify the person who died but said the individual was over 65 years old and from the Douglas County area.

The state's epidemiologist Dr. Tom Safranek said Monday that vaping-associated lung injuries were unreported and not tracked by public health agencies prior to the emergence of hundreds of cases across the country in recent weeks.

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"Once the problem was recognized, states quickly ramped up surveillance and found current cases, but have also discovered cases that occurred before the August outbreak," Safranek said in a statement. The Nebraska death occurred in May, the state's health department said.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 12 people had died from vaping-related lung illnesses. Since then, two deaths have also been reported in Oregon and North Carolina.

In all cases of the illness, patients have reported a history of vaping — either THC, nicotine or something else — and many experienced a combination of similar symptoms that look like a form of pneumonia: coughing, trouble breathing, chest pain, extreme fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

Patients often require mechanical assistance breathing, and some have been admitted to hospital intensive care units.

A number of states have passed various forms of bans on flavored vaping products in recent weeks as an effort to curb the number of illnesses and deaths.

TheTrump administration announced plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes earlier in the month, but the details on when that would be enacted have not been revealed.

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