At Least 26 US Diplomats Have Fallen Ill in Mysterious Sonic Attacks
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
New numbers show at least 26 American diplomats have been “medically confirmed” to have been sickened or injured by mysterious sonic attacks, US officials said Tuesday. Fortunately, there are no reports of traveling US civilians being injured yet, but the State Department has issued an alert telling US citizens in China to be on alert for any of the unexplained symptoms.
Hundreds of US diplomats and their families in seven cities spanning four countries have been tested for the mysterious illness, which first popped up in the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, in 2016.
The new reports of sonic-related health incidents among US diplomats include a false-alarm scare regarding a US diplomatic employee in Singapore hours before the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un earlier this month, the AP reports.
Similar symptoms also forced a USAID employee to be pulled from his post in Uzbekistan in late 2017 for medical tests. That incident also turned out to be a false alarm — but both illustrate the level of anxiety the US Department of State is feeling about these types of perplexing attacks.
The peculiar incidents first began in the US Embassy in Cuba in 2016 when US diplomats began showing health problems with symptoms of “sharp ear pain, headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, attention issues and signs consistent with mild traumatic brain injury or concussion,” US officials told Congress in a January hearing, according to CNN.
The officials said that the symptoms consistently followed some type of “acoustic element,” like a “high-pitched beam of sound” or a “baffling sensation akin to driving with the windows partially open in a car.”
Then in May, the US State Department issued a health alert for China after a US official based in Guangzhou began experiencing “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure.” The employee was evacuated for medical evaluations, which did match symptoms for mild brain injury or concussion. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the sonic incident in China was “entirely consistent” with the incidents in Cuba.
“If you or members of your family experience any unusual, unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena, or other health concerns, please contact your health care provider,” the alert reads. “Symptoms to be attentive for include dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints and hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping.”
The illnesses (and sometimes false-alarm symptoms) are becoming so prevalent that the US government has created a specific protocol for screening for the potential brain injuries. With the help of a team of neurologists from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctor from Miami, who was the first dispatched to Cuba, the US State Department has developed a formal process to screen employees for the early signs of brain injury from sonic attack.
Employees posted where the attacks have happened get a “baseline” screening, so if they develop symptoms, they can be compared to their original test results.
A medical team from the US State Department has been visiting all US diplomatic employees in China, offering to screen them and their families for the symptoms if they choose. At last count, the team had screened 200 American diplomats and their relatives. Of those tests in China, less than a dozen have been evacuated for further review by the University of Pennsylvania medical team.
H/T: Associated Press
Featured image by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.