Iowa vaping illnesses total reaches 21

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The mysterious illness resembling a rare form of pneumonia has also caused the deaths of at least 11 people, causing alarm throughout the country and prompting many to question the safety of vaping.

Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally confirmed that the vast majority of patients with vaping-related respiratory illnesses have reported using cannabis products, typically purchased on the black market.

"It's a generic product name that doesn't really tie back to one store or one distributor", said Dr. Jennifer Layden, chief medical officer for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"Case numbers will likely continue to increase as this investigation continues", according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The cases emerged only in recent months, which suggests that the problem is relatively new additives or contaminants in THC vapes, and possibly also in counterfeit nicotine pods or nicotine e-liquids of unknown provenance.

Separate data from Wisconsin and IL showed that although no single brand name was reported by all patients, two-thirds of consumers reported using a prefilled THC cartridge under the brand name "Dank Vapes". They found that 66 percent of the cases in their states had used Dank Vapes brand cartridges.

Across the U.S., 805 people have become ill and 12 have died from the mysterious lung illness. CDC said most of the THC-containing products that were tied to the illnesses were obtained from "informal sources", such as people's friends or from a dealer. Cases have been reported in 38 states and one USA territory. While cases in the current outbreak have been reported as early as April, the number began to swell in early July, the report says. But the median age of those who died is much older - 50. Many young and previously healthy adolescents and young adults needed machines to help them breathe. The data, gathered between April and September, found that 87% of the 86 patients interviewed used products with THC.

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Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury.

A second report, which focused on patients in IL and Wisconsin, similarly found that the vast majority of the individuals reported using THC-containing vaping products.

Patients reported symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough and chest pain, and some reported nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss.

Officials continue to find a substantial numbers of USA patients - the new report says 16% - who said they vaped only nicotine, and not THC.

In Illinois and Wisconsin, patient interviews revealed more about what they had been vaping.

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