(CNN) — Alabama on Wednesday announced the state’s first death due to lung disease associated with vaping — bringing the nationwide total of confirmed deaths to 17.
The Alabama Department of Public Health said the death was an adult man in the eastern part of the state.
“While this current outbreak is being investigated, the safest option is to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vape product,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said in a statement Wednesday.
The Virginia death, an adult from the state’s southwest region, was initially reported by Cone Health in Greensboro, North Carolina, on September 26. The New Jersey death, an adult from the northern part of the state, was reported to its health department in August.
“I am deeply saddened to announce the first death of a Virginia resident related to this outbreak,” Virginia’s state health commissioner, Dr. M. Norman Oliver, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Fourteen other deaths have been identified nationwide as part of the multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping: two in California, two in Kansas, two in Oregon, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Nebraska.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the agency is aware of 805 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use in 46 states and the US Virgin Islands.
A specific cause of the nationwide outbreak remains unknown, but health officials are zeroing in on potential clues — including the prevalence of THC-containing products among cases.
New Jersey’s health department noted that, “to date, there have been no reports of serious lung illness associated with products sold in dispensaries permitted by the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program.”
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