15 confirmed or suspected cases of vaping lung damage in Minn.

In this March 18, 2014 file photo, Jesse Ly smoked his e-cigarette at the Smokeless Smoking kiosk at the Roseville Mall in Roseville, Minn.
Renee Jones Schneider/AP

Updated: 3:56 p.m. | Posted: 10:56 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health says it has confirmed four cases of severe lung injuries associated with vaping, and is investigating 11 more.

Last week, the department urged health care providers to report cases severe lung disease possibly linked to vaping, after Children's Minnesota reported four cases.

Some of those patients required weeks-long hospital stays and even treatment in intensive care.

The Health Department says symptoms included shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.

The department says it’s partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in hopes of identifying exactly what's causing the illnesses and to develop strategies to prevent more cases. Friday afternoon CDC reported the number of severe breathing illnesses reported in people who vape has grown to nearly 200 in 22 states.

Officials with the CDC released the new figures Friday and confirmed that an adult in Illinois is being counted as the first death in the investigation.

The Minnesota Health Department says many of those patients report having vaped THC purchased on the black market. THC — or Tetrahydrocannabinol — is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.

The Health Department says vaping liquid typically contains nicotine, which is “highly addictive and harmful to the adolescent brain.” The department adds that e-cigarette aerosol also contains “ultrafine particles, oil, and heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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