CDC updates diagnostic criteria for vaping-related lung disease as AMA calls for ban on products

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated guidance for diagnosticians dealing with e-cigarette or vaping lung injury (EVALI), while providers continue pressuring politicians to curb sales of such products.

CDC officials said the update arrives to coincide with flu season, when providers will start seeing increasing cases of respiratory illnesses. This latest guidance urged diagnosticians to ask patients with any symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal illness about their vaping-use history.

It also cautioned that not all who have such a history require hospitalization, and influenza should be “strongly considered” during the coming months.

“Treatment strategies such as behavioral counseling are recommended to help EVALI patients discontinue using e-cigarette, or vaping, products,” the CDC noted in its guidance, issued Tuesday, Nov. 19.

“Healthcare providers should emphasize the importance of annual flu vaccines for all patients 6 months of age or older, including patients at risk of EVALI,” the agency added.

Latest tallies estimate that the lung disease has affected 2,172 individuals across the U.S. in every state except Alaska. As of Nov. 13, 42 deaths have been confirmed from EVALI.

Public pressure on both politicians and vaping manufacturers has increased recently as the epidemic has worsened. The American Medical Association, for one, called for a total ban on all vaping products that do not meet FDA standards. The influential physician group also advocated Tuesday, Nov. 19, for research funding to explore vaping safety, as well as diagnostic codes that recognize EVALI.

“The recent lung illness outbreak has alarmed physicians and the broader public health community and shined a light on the fact that we have very little evidence about the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping products,” AMA President Patrice Harris, MD, said in a statement.