TAMPA, Fla. — Florida hasn't had any vaping-related deaths to date, but state health officials said they are investigating several reports of possible vaping-related illnesses, including some in the Tampa Bay area.
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Michael Falcitelli of Land O' Lakes said he vaped for the first time a couple of weeks ago.
He said soon afterward he got sick and started having problems breathing.
"This was a rare, weird, odd thing and it got me," he said.
Falcitelli said he went to Dr. Monica Bueso, a pulmonologist with AdventHealth.
After looking at his X-rays and examining him, Bueso diagnosed Falcitelli with what's being called a "vaping-associated pulmonary injury" and Bueso said this isn't the only case she's seen.
"At least with this vaping, we're seeing acute, fast effects, so I think this could actually be even worse than cigarette smoking," she said.
Vaping devices heat liquid into an aerosol that users inhale. The liquids can contain nicotine, flavorings and other ingredients.
Bueso said that's part of the problem — the products could contain unknown substances.
Right now, public health officials don't know what's causing people to suddenly get sick or if there are any lasting effects.
"We're just seeing the acute. We know the acute effect is severe. Again, this patient almost ended up intubated and on life support," Bueso said.
Falcitelli said he is on medication and is feeling better, but he said he's also frustrated.
"It's ridiculous that there's even things out there that we can buy that we don't even know if it's going to hurt you, kill you or what," he said.
The CDC is telling people who are concerned to consider not using e-cigarettes until the agency's investigation is complete.
On Tuesday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody held a vaping round table with state education and health officials.
The state said it plans to develop a course for students about the potential dangers of vaping.