Oct. 10 (UPI) -- The number of deaths connected to vaping-related lung injury has soared to 26, and the number of confirmed and probable cases has risen to 1,299 reported in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration believe that the evidence so far points to illicit THC-containing vapes, obtained through informal channels such as friends or on the street.
The FDA has not yet publicly identified any substance or substances on which it can pin the outbreak.
Among 573 patients interviewed who told investigators they had used a vaping product within the past 90 days, 76 percent reported using THC-containing vaping products and nicotine products. About 32 percent said they used only THC vaping products, and about 13 percent told investigators they used only nicotine products, the CDC said.
Of 1,043 patients with demographic data available, 70 percent of patients are male and about 80 percent of the patients are under age 35. Thirty-six percent were younger than 20 years old, the agency said.
The ages of the patients who have died range from 17 to 75, the agency said, with a median age of 49.
National health agencies have recommended that people stop using vapes altogether until the investigation is complete.
A Massachusetts judge last week declined to temporarily lift Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products in the state. A Michigan ban on flavored vapes was also challenged in court this week.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission opened an inquiry into the marketing practices of the six largest e-cigarette manufacturers, including Juul. The FTC is investigating whether some of the largest companies were engaging in marketing practices, including flavored vapes, specifically targeting children.