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What We're Reading: Rising Vaping-Related Illnesses; Invasive Mosquitos in California; $3M for Marijuana Research


Vaping-related lung illnesses have risen to 530 cases; 2 invasive species of mosquitoes are spreading across California; US pays $3 million toward research on medicinal marijuana.

Vaping-Related Lung Illnesses Rise to 530 Cases

The incidence of mysterious lung illnesses related to vaping has increased to 530 reported cases across 38 states, according to The Washington Post. The outbreak of vaping-related illnesses has now accounted for 8 deaths across the nation, leading to intervention by the FDA. Federal officials said that the enforcement arm of the FDA has been conducting a probe in parallel with the public health investigation led by the CDC. The root cause of these illnesses and deaths has yet to be found, but officials disclosed that all reported cases show a history of e-cigarette or vaping use. Many of the affected individuals had a history of using e-cigarette products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces marijuana’s high, as well as many reported cases involving vaping both nicotine and THC, and some reporting vaping solely nicotine products.

Invasive Species of Mosquitoes Spreading Over California

Invasive species of mosquitoes carrying Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and other dangerous viruses are spreading across California, with 2 species currently found. California Healthline reported that these mosquitoes have been found as far north as Sacramento and Placer counties, which now brings the total to 16 counties containing Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species that causes yellow fever. Of these counties, 5 have additionally detected the species Aedes albopictus, known as the Asian tiger mosquito. These mosquitoes can spread the Zika virus, which created an epidemic in 2015 within Brazil and can be sexually transmitted after infection. Microcephaly, a condition which inhibits the development of a baby’s brain and causes their head to be much smaller than usual, is a known effect of the Zika virus.

US to Spend $3 Million on Medicinal Marijuana Research

Researchers will receive federal grants to study the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD), a component in marijuana, for relieving pain, according to the Associated Press. The US government will spend $3 million in total, allocated as 9 research grants, on testing CBD and many other lesser-known chemicals, but it notably excluded THC as part of its research. Marijuana is currently still considered an illegal drug by the federal government, but it is now allowed for medicinal purposes in 30 states. Delineating which chemical components in marijuana result in the highest effectiveness for treating chronic pain, and additionally whether these chemicals can eliminate the need for THC, are key objectives for research.

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