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US Issues Health Alert for China in Potential 'Sonic Attack'

May 23, 2018
2 min read
US Issues Health Alert for China in Potential 'Sonic Attack'
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The US government issued a health alert for China on Wednesday after a US official stationed in the country reported "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" that experts believe are symptoms of a mild brain injury.

The US government employee who became sick was stationed in Guangzhou, a city in China's southern region. According to the US State Department, the employee reported numerous "subtle and vague but abnormal" symptoms beginning in late 2017 through April 2018 — when the official was sent back to the US to be medically evaluated.

On May 18, the US Embassy in Beijing learned the results of that medical evaluation matched symptoms for mild brain injury.

The State Department alert says officials do not know the cause of the various symptoms, but the "U.S. government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event."

The alert advises US citizens who develop symptoms either during or after a visit to China to seek medical attention. Additionally, if citizens experience "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises," they should move away from the area immediately.

Officials are investigating whether this is a "sonic attack" that could be similar to attacks against US officials that occurred in Cuba throughout 2016 and 2017. During that time period, officials stationed in the US Embassy in Havana experienced health problems with symptoms such as "sharp ear pain, headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, attention issues and signs consistent with mild traumatic brain injury or concussion," CNN reports.

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All of those injuries contained some form of "acoustic element" like a "high-pitched beam of sound," officials reported to Congress in January, leading experts to believe the injuries were caused by some sort of sonic attack. The actual cause of those injuries remains unknown today, and Cuban officials have denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

A State Department spokeswoman told CNN that Chinese officials said they would also be "investigating and taking appropriate measures."

Featured image by AFP/Getty Images

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