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Investigators say resident died in July after using e-cigarette to inhale cannabis

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - An Oregon resident died in July from lung illness likely after reporting the use of an e-cigarette or vaping device to use cannabis. E-cigarette use has been on the rise nationally, and federal health investigators say there are now over 200 cases of respiratory illness linked to vaping.Health authorities have confirmed that an Oregon resident died in July from lung illness related to vaping.

The Oregon Health Authority reported Tuesday, Sept. 3, that investigators at the state's public health division said the death may have been linked to the use of an e-cigarette containing cannabis purchased at a dispensary. Details about the incident have not been released. Multnomah County health officials confirmed Wednesday, Sept. 4, that the person was "middle aged," but noted it was unclear what devices or substances that person used before developing severe respiratory complications.

"We don't yet know the exact cause of these illnesses — whether they're caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something else, such as the device itself," said Dr. Ann Thomas, public health physician at OHA's Public Health Division.

The vaping-related death in Oregon is one of more than 200 similar cases investigated across 25 states. As of Aug. 27, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 215 similar cases. In most cases, the fatal lung illness affected teens and young adults, OHA officials reported. Health experts say those affected were hospitalized after reporting worsening symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss.

A cause has yet to be determined, but the CDC said all of the deaths and illnesses have reported the use of e-cigarettes or vape devices, which deliver smokeless, vaporized versions of cannabis or nicotine.

In Oregon, doctors were urged to "be on alert for signs of severe respiratory illness among patients who recently used vaping products, including e-cigarettes."

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