Vaping-related deaths climb to 33 as CDC continues to investigate mysterious outbreak

At least 33 people have died from illnesses related to vaping, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

In addition to the death toll rising, the number of people reporting vaping-related illnesses has risen to 1,479. The CDC has released new case counts every week and this 180-case jump appears to be the lowest increase since mid-September.

The CDC first began reporting on the outbreak in March. Since then, 49 states and one U.S. territory have reported cases. The only state that has not seen one is Alaska. The majority of the cases are people in their teens into their early 30s, according to the CDC.

In most cases, people said they used vaping products that contained THC, the mind-altering chemical compound found in marijuana. Still, no single ingredient or product has been linked to the illnesses.

Officials in New York said in early September that they were looking into vitamin E acetate as a potential case because “very high levels” were found in cannabis vape products submitted by patients.

While vitamin E acetate is harmless to people who ingest it as a dietary supplement or ointment, the department is looking into the effects it has once it’s inhaled as vapor from an oil-like substance.

In early October, a Mayo Clinic study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that lung injuries from vaping most likely are caused by “direct toxicity or tissue damage from noxious chemical fumes.”

Researchers studied lung biopsies from 17 patients who vaped and were suspected of having vaping-associated lung injuries, according to the report.

The CDC is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test substances in e-cigarette products used by patients and to collect information about patients’ recent vaping habits.

Until the investigation is complete, the agency is urging people to avoid vaping.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this report.