Mystery of 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuba Deepens as Another U.S. Embassy Employee 'Medically Confirmed' to Have Been Injured
Yet another United States embassy employee in Havana, Cuba has been "medically confirmed to have experienced health effects" consistent with the mysterious affliction that has been plaguing personnel there since late 2016, said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement June 28th.
The employee is now one of 26 so afflicted, following an incident which occurred at the end of May this year that affected one other staff member. Dozens more embassy employees have been medically cleared following what some have speculated to be targeted attacks on the embassy. Additionally, one U.S. embassy employee in China was similarly afflicted earlier this year.
Victims described a sudden wave of nausea, dizziness, and headaches that followed strange sounds that they compared to loud crickets or screeching metal, and have been treated for ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance problems, visual complaints, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping.
An interagency team--including the State Department, FBI, and CIA--is at a loss as to the cause of the phenomenon, but Nauert said the U.S. is preparing "mitigation measures" to protect diplomats.
The Trump administration has insisted that Cuba must know who is responsible, despite the state's denial of any involvement--citing Cuba's small size and the state of its security.
"We strongly remind the Cuban government of its responsibility under the Vienna Convention to protect our diplomats," said Nauert.
The majority of U.S. personnel have been withdrawn from the embassy in Havana, and an equal percentage of Cuban diplomats have been expelled from Washington. All visa services for Cubans have also been cancelled as a result.
So far no penalty has been levied on China following the incident there.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained during a Senate hearing in June why the administration is penalizing Cuba and not China by saying that the initial response from China had been "better," and that there were differences in the "magnitude, scope, consistency," and "time period" between the separate incidents in both countries.
According to a recent study from the University of Michigan, the attacks could have been an unintentional side effect of ultrasound listening devices; although that study is awaiting further review, and there is no scientific consensus on that as the cause.
A team of doctors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine who studied 21 of the victims determined that the damage to the victims' brains is similar to that suffered by military veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan who have survived explosions, although the soldiers' injuries--which included concussions and damage to their white matter tracts--were attributed to explosive shock waves. The doctors who examined the embassy victims said that they had suffered concussions, but were unable to make any determination beyond that.
None of the embassy victims reported being involved in any explosions, and doctors are currently treating the symptoms like a new, never-before-seen illness.