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'Severe lung injury' linked to vaping found in Minnesota teens

Similar reports have been received in Wisconsin as well.

Four cases of severe lung injury possibly linked to vaping and e-cigarette use has been found by Children's Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health wants the state's healthcare providers to be on the alert for "novel cases of severe lung disease" potentially related to e-cig use among teens and young adults.

The discovery comes after similar cases were reported in Wisconsin and Illinois, though the MDH says it's "too early" to say if they're connected.

The symptoms in the Minneapolis case have lasted weeks, with some of the patients even having been admitted into intensive care.

At this stage the names of the products used by the patients are unknown, but use of both nicotine and marijuana-based products were reported.

"There are still many unanswered questions, but the health harms emerging from the current epidemic of youth vaping in Minnesota continue to increase," said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist and MDH medical director in a press release. 

"We are encouraging providers and parents to be on the look-out for vaping as a cause for unexplained breathing problems and lung injury and disease."

Common symptoms presented in the cases so far include shortness of breath, fever, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea, with other symptoms including headache, dizziness and chest pain.

MDH says e-cig aerosols contain potentially harmful chemicals including ultrafine particles, oil, heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead, and other cancer-causing materials.

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Almost 20 percent of high school students in Minnesota said in 2017 that they use e-cigarettes, while 40 percent have tried them.

"We are deeply concerned by the severe cases of lung injury associated with vaping that we are currently seeing," said Dr. Emily Chapman, chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota. 

"These cases are extremely complex to diagnose, as symptoms can mimic a common infection yet can lead to severe complications and extended hospitalization. Medical attention is essential; respiratory conditions can continue to decline without proper treatment."

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