NEW YORK (AP) — More than 500 people have been diagnosed with vaping-related breathing illnesses, but the cause remains unknown, U.S. health officials said Thursday. An eighth death was also reported.

Meanwhile,
the Food and Drug Administration revealed that its criminal
investigations unit started tracking leads early on, as cases pointed to
black market vaping products. The agency’s tobacco director, Mitch
Zeller, stressed that it is not interested in prosecuting individuals
who use illegal products but is lending a hand because of the unit’s
“special skills.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said 530 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 38 states
and one U.S. territory, up from 380 a week ago.

Missouri joined the list later Thursday, announcing the death this week of a man in his mid-40s at a St. Louis hospital.

Canada reported its first case Wednesday, a high school student who was on life support and has since recovered.

All patients had used an electronic cigarette or other vaping device.

Doctors
have said the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the lungs
apparently reacting to a caustic substance. So far, no single vaping
product or ingredient has been linked to the illnesses, though most
patients reported vaping THC, the high-producing ingredient in
marijuana.

The man who died in Missouri told his family he started
vaping in May for chronic pain, but investigators have not yet
determined if he was vaping THC, according to a spokeswoman at Mercy
Hospital St. Louis.

Two-thirds of the cases involved 18- to 34-year-olds. Three-quarters are men.

Some of the first cases appeared in April. CDC hasn’t said when most people got sick.

A congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing on the outbreaks on Tuesday.

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