Officials haven’t found any conclusive evidence to suggest that an infectious illness is behind the cases, the agency added, however, recent vaping by those afflicted appears to be the only common thread discovered so far.
The CDC is working in close consultation with officials in some of the hardest-hit states, including Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana, and Minnesota. Wisconsin alone reported 30 of the 94 cases.
In many of the illnesses, people experience such symptoms as shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough, and weight loss, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported in its outbreak investigation notice. The cases appeared mainly in teens and young adults at first, the department said, yet the disease has also been seen recently among older adults.
Investigators are trying to find out more information about the specific e-cig products and brands that the afflicted used. Officials in Wisconsin have reportedly sent some cartridges of suspect vaping liquids to the Food and Drug Administration for testing. Wisconsin health officials noted that “the products consumed could include a number of substances, including nicotine, THC, synthetic cannabinoids, or a combination of these.”
One of the affected, a 26-year-old man with asthma who ended up in an intensive care unit in July, told NPR that he had difficulty breathing after vaping THC oil he bought on the street.
"The oil in the cartridge was really watered down. And it was pee-colored, it wasn't supposed to be that color, it's supposed to be dark amber," he said.
Juul Labs, the dominant e-cigarette maker in the US, said in an emailed statement to Reuters that “like any health-related events reportedly associated with the use of vapor products, we are monitoring these reports.”
“These reports reaffirm the need to keep all tobacco and nicotine products out of the hands of youth through significant regulation on access and enforcement. We also must ensure illegal products, such as counterfeit, copycat, and those that deliver controlled substances, stay out of the market and away from youth” the statement read.
Juul and others have faced intense criticism for allegedly marketing their products to teens, helping to spark what the FDA has described as an “epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.” Research by the University of North Carolina also suggested possible long-term health impacts of vape liquids, which have been found to have a wide variety of chemicals and components.