ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The number of lung illnesses from using e-cigarettes continues to rise. The CDC reports at least five people have died and there are more than 450 confirmed cases of illnesses associated with vaping. 

Less than two weeks ago, that number was at 215.

  • CDC recommends not vaping while investigation is ongoing
  • Unclear at this point which products, which chemicals caused the illnesses
  • More Health stories

As flu season approaches, medical professionals are warning that people who use e-cigarettes could be more susceptible to getting the virus. 

“It lowers your ability to fight infection," said Bethany Merrill, a family nurse practitioner at American Family Care. "It’s causing inflammation in your lungs; therefore, you’re more susceptible to getting illnesses like the flu.” 

She says that’s also the case with any kind of smoking. Merrill says she’s had patients who have come in with symptoms associated with vaping. 

“I’ve had a few patients that have decided that enough is enough," said Merrill. "I had a patient recently who was hospitalized in his young 20s and put on a ventilator for having the pneumonia.” 

The CDC recommends not vaping while it continues its investigation into the outbreak of illnesses and deaths. The agency also suggests people not start using e-cigarettes if they don’t already.

The CDC encourages people not to buy the products off the street, either. 

At this point in the investigation, it’s unclear which products and which chemicals caused the illnesses.

The CDC says if you’re concerned about your health after using these products, you can call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.