Orlando doctor weighs in on US vaping-related deaths

Doctors concerned amid ‘nationwide outbreak’

ORLANDO, Fla. – As the number of vaping-related deaths and illnesses continues to climb, doctors are calling it a nationwide outbreak.

Last week, seven vaping-related deaths nationwide were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week, the death toll has risen to 12, including a death reported in Florida. It's unknown where in Florida the victim died or how old they were.

The most recent death comes after states like Georgia and Mississippi also announced vaping deaths this week.

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Dr. Josef Thundiyil, who works at Orlando Regional Medical Center, said it’s still unknown exactly why vaping is making people sick.

"These substances are not as safe as we once thought they would be," Thundiyil said. "(They contain) harmful chemicals and cancer-causing chemicals."

The CDC confirms more than 800 lung injury cases are now associated with vaping. The latest CDC report shows 72% of patients are men and 38% of patients are people under 21 years old.

Thundiyil said some obvious symptoms may be coughing, loss of breath and chest pains, but some people affected may not experience symptoms until three months after exposure.

He said teens who vape should be honest with their doctor when asked because they may be at risk and not know it. He said the best advice doctors can offer is don’t vape or smoke cigarettes at all.

[MORE: 3 people hospitalized this year in Orange County for vape-related illnesses | Schools turn to air-quality monitors to crack down on student vaping]

"For those people who are now using vaping, I'm also saying don't now go back to cigarettes, either. Those are harmful, as well," Thundiyil said.

Some Central Floridians who use vaping products and e-cigarettes say they're being more careful.

“Yes, it peaks my awareness,” Kent Waugh said. “I think it’s something to be careful of, yes.”

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