MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the past two months, Minnesota has seen 11 cases of severe lung injuries associated with vaping.

The Minnesota Department of Health sent an alert to health care providers Friday morning, after seeing cases impact Minnesotans ages 14 to 46. The median age of those hospitalized was 18, with some requiring intensive care, including being placed on ventilators.

The vaping-related lung injury is also known as e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).

The impact of EVALI is similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. Many patients sought care for coughs and shortness of breath. However, they tested negative for the virus.

MORE: Coronavirus Updates: CDC Says COVID-19 Symptoms Worse For Smokers, E-Cigarette Users

“This public health threat got a lot of attention last year, and unfortunately it has not gone away,” said Minnesota commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “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.”

The patients said they had a history of vaping. Most reported vaping THC, the main and most attractive ingredient in marijuana. Others reported using nicotine-based products.

“With this resurgence of cases, we are advising patients with a history of vaping who are experiencing lung-injury symptoms to seek clinical care,” said MDH State Epidemiologist and Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield. “In addition, because this can present like COVID-19, providers also need to conduct a test to rule this out.”

MDH encourages people to use Quit Partner, a free resource to help with quitting vaping.

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