The US embassy in China issued a health alert on Wednesday (May 23)
after a US government employee experienced an "abnormal" sound and
suffered a mild brain injury - in an incident reminiscent of a
mysterious illness that hit diplomats in Cuba.
and Chinese authorities are investigating the matter after the employee,
who was assigned to the southern city of Guangzhou, was diagnosed with
mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), said embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee.
an alert emailed to US citizens in China, the embassy said it does not
know what caused the symptoms or of any similar situations in the
Cuba last year, the US disclosed that 24 diplomats and their family
members had fallen victim to an unsolved mysterious attack that left
them with injuries resembling brain trauma. Ten Canadian diplomats and
their relatives also suffered a strange illness.
cannot at this time connect it with what happened in Havana but we are
investigating all possibilities," a US embassy official in Beijing told
AFP on the condition of anonymity.
embassy's health alert says the government employee "recently reported
subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure".
US government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its
official staff in China of this event," the message says.
in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory
phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not
attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the
sounds are not present," it says, urging people with medical problems to
consult a doctor.
said the employee experienced "a variety of physical symptoms" between
late 2017 through April 2018. The person was sent to the United States
and diagnosed with MTBI on May 18.
(State) Department is taking this incident very seriously and is working
to determine the cause and impact of the incident," Lee said.
Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking
Chinese foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.
Cuba, the American victims had associated the onset of their symptoms
with "unusual sounds or auditory sensations", a State Department
physician told the US Senate in January.
Rosenfarb, a doctor and director of the State Department bureau of
medical services, said the symptoms were mixed but consistent with brain
victims suffered headaches, hearing loss, disorientation and some loss
of cognitive ability.
officials suspected the Americans had been targeted by some sort of
acoustic weapon, although in public senior officials were more cautious,
speaking of "health attacks". Media reports have suggested that the FBI
has not been able to verify any evidence to support the sonic weapon
US government has held Cuba responsible, arguing that Raul Castro's
authoritarian state must have either carried out the assaults or at
least known who was behind them.
incident prompted the United States last year to withdraw more than half
of its personnel at the embassy in Havana, which reopened in 2015 as the
two nations re-established diplomatic relations that had ruptured in
announced last month that it was bringing home the families of its
diplomats in Cuba after a year-long investigation into the illness
failed to reveal a cause.
cause (of their symptoms) remains unknown but could be human-made," the
Canadian government concluded.
and US authorities had initially suspected a "sonic attack" or a "mass
symptoms included dizziness, headaches and a lack of ability to
their American counterparts, however, no Canadian envoy reported hearing
any suspicious sound prior to falling ill.
(Reuters) - An American citizen working at the U.S. consulate in
the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has reported suffering
from “abnormal” sounds and pressure leading to a mild brain
injury, the U.S. embassy said on Wednesday.
embassy, which issued a health alert to Americans living in
China, said it could not link the case to health issues suffered
by U.S. government staff in Cuba dating back to late 2016.
unnamed American citizen assigned to the consulate in Guangzhou
had reported a variety of “physical symptoms” dating from late
2017 to April this year, the U.S. embassy in Beijing said in an
worker was sent to the United States for further evaluation.
“The clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic
brain injury (MTBI),” the embassy said.
State Department was taking the incident very seriously and
working to determine the cause and impact, the embassy said.
added the Chinese government told the embassy it is also
investigating and taking appropriate measures.
cannot at this time connect it with what happened in Havana, but
we are investigating all possibilities,” a U.S. embassy official
Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for
U.S. government on Wednesday issued a health alert to Americans
in China, warning them about the incident it described as
“subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and
in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or
sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing
noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to
a location where the sounds are not present,” the emailed alert
U.S. government in October expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the
United States for what it said was Cuba’s failure to protect
staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana from mysterious health
incidents at one point thought to possibly have been acoustic
there reported symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness,
fatigue and cognitive issues, though Cuban officials dismissed
the idea of acoustic strikes as “science fiction” and accused
Washington of slander.
cause of those incidents remains unresolved.
Canadian government in April said it would remove families of
diplomats posted to Cuba after Canadian personnel there in 2017
also reported similar health symptoms.
by Michael Martina; Editing by Darren Schuettler