Federal health officials reported on Friday that the number of people sickened with a severe lung illness linked to vaping has more than doubled to 450 possible cases in 33 states, including three deaths and a possible fourth.
The Indiana Department of Health announced the third death on Friday, saying only that the victim was older than 18.
“There is clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response,” Dr. David C. Christiani of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote in an editorial published on Friday afternoon in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The editorial called on doctors to discourage their patients from using e-cigarettes and for a broader effort to increase public awareness about “the harmful effects of vaping.”
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoed that call in a briefing.
“While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products,” said Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, who is leading the C.D.C’s investigation into the illness.
C.D.C. officials said they believe that some “chemical” is involved as the cause but they have not identified a single responsible “device, product or substance,” Dr. Meaney-Delman said.