Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy principal director of the CDC, said she would call it a breakthrough in the Agency's investigation, although further tests are needed. "We have a strong culprit."
There is still much to do, and the CDC said it continues to test for a wide range of chemicals.
"This does not exclude other possible ingredients," Schuchat said. "There can be more than one cause."
The CDC said that their tests found vitamin E acetate in samples taken from 29 patients suffering from a steam-related condition in 10 states. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, or its metabolites, has been detected in 23 out of 28 patients. Nicotine metabolites were detected in 1
During the press conference Dr. James Pirkle of CDC Vitamin E acetate as "enormously sticky" when it gets into the lungs and "hangs around". Pirkle said it's not uncommon THC is missing in some samples as it leaves the lungs faster. He added that it was "remarkable" to find THC in 82% of samples from 28 patients.
In September, New York's health authorities linked cases of severe lung disease with vitamin E acetate in cannabis-containing steam products. At the time, the investigators said it was "a central point" of the state's investigation of the diseases.
Vitamin E is used in several products, eg. In lotions and nutritional supplements. However, according to CDC, there is a "big difference" in putting vitamin E on the skin or swallowing it in pills and inhaling the oily vitamin.
Dr. Jennifer Layden, the chief physician and state epidemiologist at the Illinois Department of Public Health, said at the press conference that in her state, the majority of cases of people who were ill used THC and that her materials were from informal sources. "In Illinois, she said, there have been no cases related to the state medical marijuana program.
By 5 November, 2,051 cases of vaping-associated disease had been reported in every state, with the exception of Alaska.
Explanation: This story and title have been updated to reflect that vitamin E acetate, sometimes used as a thickener in THC vaporization products, has been linked to vapor-induced lung injury.