Inexplicable Symptoms in US Diplomats Linked to Microwave Pulses

The "Havana Syndrome" caused bizarre symptoms to diplomats abroad, such as hearing loss and pain in one or both ears.
Fabienne Lang
US Embassy in Havana, CubaAleksandar Georgiev/iStock

Bizarre symptoms were reported in 2016 by U.S. diplomats working in specific locations abroad. These are being called "The Havana Syndrome" as they were first reported by diplomats working in the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. 

This myterious syndrome was potentially caused by microwave pulses, as stated in a recently-published report in the National Academies of Sciences.


In 2016, people who worked in the embassy in Cuba developed inexplicable symptoms, which included hearing a loud noise before experiencing pain in one or both ears, as well as ringing in the ears, vision problems, vertigo, and cognitive issues, as the report wrote. 

Following this, people working in the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, reported similar symptoms, as did CIA workers in Russia, reports NBC News

For some, "The Havana Syndrome" even became "chronic and debilitating."

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) asked a committee to look into the matter, wrote Live Science. According to the report, the medical committee found no known disorder linked to these symptoms, and considered a number of causes, including radio frequency energy, chemical exposures, psychological issues, and infectious diseases. 

Ultimately, the committee concluded the symptoms are "consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed radio frequency (RF) energy," wrote David Relman, the chair of the committee, in the report.

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However, "the committee cannot rule out other possible mechanisms and considers it likely that a multiplicity of factors explains some cases and the differences between others," read the report

It's not been outright stated that the radio frequency energy was specifically targeted as attacks, but it has been highly insinuated

"Even though [the committee] was not in a position to assess or comment on how these [Department of State] cases arose, such as a possible source of directed, pulsed RF energy and the exact circumstances of the putative exposures, the mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others," Relman wrote.

The focus now is on how to minimize such occurrences from happening again. 

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