Mysterious lung disease from e-cigarettes leads to first vape-related death

Matthew Levenson, Staff Writer

On Aug. 23, a man from Illinois died after he was hospitalized with a severe lung disease that was associated with vaping.This marks the first official vape-related death in the United States, and it is raising concern about the recent outbreak of this mysterious lung disease. Following this death, six other people have lost their lives to this disease. 

Since mid-August, there has been an emergence of a mysterious lung disease that has sickened 450 people across the United States. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working with state health departments to figure out what is causing this lung disease, which they have already learned is linked to e-cigarette and juul usage. 

Over the last few years, the amount of people, specifically teens, using e-cigarette products has skyrocketed. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of high school students using e-cigarettes has increased by 78%. As the trend of these products continues to grow in popularity, so do the negative health factors that are beginning to appear, such as this relatively new lung disease. 

“I see more people juuling and using e-cigarettes than I see people using tea cigarettes or other tobacco products. If this is true, I think our generation is in for a rude awakening,” an anonymous source said. 

The mystery disease is said to cause shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue. Some patients said their symptoms built up gradually until they had to be hospitalized, while others claimed to have serious virus-type symptoms such as fevers, diarrhea and vomiting that occurred relatively fast. 

Of all 450 current cases, the only thing in common is that every patient has used some form of e-cigarette or Juul products. The problem is that some people smoked nicotine, while others used cannabis or Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so there is no exact product that can be said is the reason for this disease as of right now.

One case of the lung disease belongs to Emma Bowland, a High School student at Riverside. In an interview with WTAE, Bowland says how she has been vaping for the last 18 months because it is what everyone else is doing. Bowland, who was recently hospitalized a few weeks ago, has been experiencing shortness of breath, stomach pains, headaches, dizziness and nausea over the course of her treatments. 

Researchers at the University Hospital in Salt Lake City recently discovered an immune cell in ten of ten of their patients with this mystery lung disease. The cells are called lipid-laden macrophages and are supposed to gather at the site of infections and essentially clean up any debris that is there. Doctors believe this “debris” in the lungs of those with the disease is thought to be there because of vaping.  

In an interview with ‘CBS This Morning’ on Aug. 29, the CEO of the e-cigarette company Juul, Kevin Burns said himself that his products are dangerous. 

“Don’t vape. Don’t use Juul. Don’t start using nicotine if you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with nicotine,” Burns said.

This statement came just six days after the first vape-related death shows how dangerous e-cigarette products are becoming. When the CEO of the company who sells the product is saying not to buy it, this might raise warning flags.  

“I definitely think that people who are on the bubble or people who haven’t yet used them but may be considering will avoid it with this news, or at least postpone their use. I feel that people who have been using them will most likely continue to use them though,” the anonymous source said. 


Until more research data can be found, this mysterious e-cigarette lung disease will remain a mystery.