Reported Cases of 'Havana Syndrome' Reach 200, Say US Officials

First seen in 2016, officials know little about what is causing the mysterious condition.
Ameya Paleja

More than 200 Americans have reported symptoms suggestive of the mysterious 'Havana Syndrome' after fresh reports emerged from Europe recently. These incidents have been seen in a wide range of locations where US agency personnel are deployed but seem to be on the rise in Europe. Recently, a US diplomat had to prematurely end his term in Germany after a previously unreported incident occurred in Berlin, NBC reported

The as-of-yet ill-defined condition is named after the capital city of Cuba, where officials working at the US Embassy in Havana first reported it in 2016. As per the reports, officials first heard loud noises followed by ringing and pain in one or both ears, issues with vision as well as experiencing difficulty in maintaining balance. In some cases, cognitive issues were also reported. Shortly after, these incidents, officials working in China and Russia also had similar experiences, leading to the suspicion that they were planned and executed attacks. 

A State Department investigation had linked the condition to a wide range of causes such as chemical exposure, infectious disease, and even psychological illness. In addition, it also suggested that the symptoms were consistent with those observed after exposure to pulsed radiofrequency, or microwave radiation. It further stated that the former Soviet Union was involved in studying the effects of microwave radiation as a weapon over 50 years ago.

While microwave radiation has become an everyday technology, the possibility of directing it as a weapon can not be ruled out. Incidents involving similar technology were reported near The White House in 2019 and 2020. 

Almost half of the reported cases involve current or former employees of the CIA, 60 from the Defense Department and nearly 50 from the State Department.  While officials are hesistant to label these events "attacks," intelligence gathering efforts are being organized to better elucidate the potential causes.

Additionally, the US government is also ensuring that individuals facing these incidents will have access to specialized medical care while also working on lowering risks for deployed officials by providing staff with devices capable of detecting microwave radiation.

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