The Army has identified two soldiers with vaping-related lung injuries that match the Center for Disease Control’s definition of the illness commonly associated with black market vaping products that contain THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.
The cases came to public light roughly a week after Base Exchanges on Army, Air Force and Navy installations removed e-cigarettes and vaping products from their shelves on Oct. 1, following recent deaths and illnesses associated with vaping.
“Both cases are in active-duty soldiers — one case is in a soldier located in the United States, and the other case is in a soldier stationed overseas,” John Resta, director of the U.S. Army Public Health Center, said in a statement.
“In the stateside case, the soldier has been treated and released. The soldier who is stationed overseas is still being treated,” Resta added.
The Army Public Health Center is monitoring all Army medical treatment facilities for more cases. The Army is the first service branch to report cases of the illness, the Wall Street Journal first reported.
Citing patient privacy, the Army Public Health Center declined to discuss which bases the two soldiers with the illness were assigned.
Chanel S. Weaver, a spokeswoman for the center, said that an Army public health investigation is ongoing and coordinating with the CDC.
The CDC, in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration and local health departments, have been investigating the multi-state outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of vaping products.
As of Oct. 1, more than 1,000 lung injury cases associated with vaping products have been reported to the CDC from 48 states and one U.S. territory.
Eighteen deaths have been confirmed in 15 states, according to an Oct. 3 advisory from the CDC. Most patients report a history of using THC-containing products.
“The latest national and regional findings suggest products containing THC play a role in the outbreak,” the CDC advisory reads.
That being said, no single product or substance has been linked to all lung injury cases, the CDC advisory states.
“The outbreak is occurring in the context of a dynamic marketplace for e-cigarette, or vaping, products, which may have a mix of ingredients, complex packaging and supply chains, and include potentially illicit substances,” the advisory adds. "Users may not know what is in their e-cigarette or e-liquid solutions. Many of the products and substances can be modified by suppliers or users."
More information is needed to know whether one or more vaping product or substance is responsible for the outbreak.
The Army Public Health Center issued a public health alert Sept. 10 warning soldiers and their families “who do not currently use tobacco products to avoid all e-cigarette and vaping products, particularly those sold off the street or modified to add any substances not intended by the manufacturer.”