By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health is looking into 15 cases of severe lung injury that may been caused by vaping.

11 of those cases involved vaping THC.

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WCCO’s Reg Chapman has more on what’s being done to determine what is causing teenagers to get sick.

Minnesota Health Department officials say the number of people affected by respiratory illness linked to vaping has taken them by surprise.

“This is new, vaping has been around some 10 plus years, but this type of severe lung injury and this number of cases appears to be something new,” Stacy Holzbauer of the Minnesota Department of Health explained.

Holzbauer says 27 cases of severe lung injury are being investigated in Minnesota, 15 are directly linked to vaping.

And 11 of the 15 cases linked to vaping, reported using illegal THC.

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THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that creates a sensation of being high.

“So THC is reported by all of the cases that we’ve interviewed but the vast majority of them have also reported vaping nicotine as well,” Holzbauer said.

Vaping has been linked to severe lung illness in 215 people across 25 states.

“Many of them are presenting with shortness of breath, fever, some of them are also presented with nausea and vomiting and other potential stomach issues, some diarrhea, but really they are just not getting enough oxygen where they need supplemental oxygen,” Holzbauer explained.

Holzbauer says MDH is gathering the products used by the teens. They want to figure out what’s causing the acute lung injury when people vape.

“Our advice is not to vape illegally acquired or non-medical cannabis at this point and if anyone develops lung issues after vaping seek health care right away,” Holzbauer said.

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The Center for Disease Control has put together a nationwide database that includes all cases of lung injury connected to vaping so states can share data.

Reg Chapman