'Sonic attack' on American consulate in China leaves staffer with brain inujury

Posted May 23, 2018

The U.S. government on Wednesday issued a health alert to Americans in China, warning them about the incident it described as "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure".

The embassy said it was not aware of any similar symptoms elsewhere in China, within or outside of the diplomatic community.

The embassy spokesperson told CBS News that the Chinese government had "assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures". United States officials made no reference to Cuba, where similar reports have been made in relation to two dozen Americans, reports CBS News. "Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present", it says, urging people with medical problems to consult a doctor. "The U.S. government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event".

In 2016 US embassy staff in Cuba said they had suffered dizziness, nausea and hearing problems.

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USA and Chinese authorities are investigating the matter after the employee, who was assigned to the southern city of Guangzhou, was diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), said Embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee.

"The (State) Department is taking this incident very seriously and is working to determine the cause and impact of the incident", US Embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee told Agence France-Presse.

Suspected "sonic attacks" affecting more than a dozen USA diplomats and family members in Havana beginning in November 2016 led to the U.S.

"Twenty-four people have had symptoms and findings consistent with what looks like a mild traumatic brain injury", State Department medical director Dr. Charles Rosenfarb told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee January 9 "The findings suggest that this is not an episode of mass hysteria".

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Previous year in Cuba, the USA reported that some of its personnel and family members experienced a range of ailments, some after hearing an unusual sound.

The United States past year chose to withdraw a large number of embassy staff from Cuba after diplomats stationed there complained of symptoms such as hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, visual difficulties, headaches and fatigue.

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It added that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers that the "sonic attack" in China was "medically similar" to the incidents in Cuba.

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