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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - State health officials have issued an alert to healthcare providers concerning vaping related lung injuries.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a statement today indicating it has received 11 reports of severe lung injuries associated with vaping over the past couple of months. The people involved range in age from 14 to 46 years old and all of them required hospitalization. Officials also noted some of the patients ended up being treated in intensive care units and placed on ventilators.

“This public health threat got a lot of attention last year, and unfortunately it has not gone away,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said. “We want providers and the public to be aware of the continued dangers of vaping products, and the possibility of lung injuries presenting as COVID-19. As we continue to investigate the causes of the lung injuries, we encourage people to take advantage of our free Quit Partner resources to help with quitting vaping.”

The health department's alert noted the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made diagnosing the problem more difficult because the symptoms can be similar to those caused by the new virus. Those symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath and the 11 recent cases were detected when the individuals sought treatment and tests for COVID-19 came back negative.

All of the patients had a history of vaping and most reported they had vaped THC, while others reported using nicotine-based products. The health department says they did respond to systemic steroid therapy.

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