Monday, 11 November, 2019

More Americans screened over mystery health issues in China

Patty Aguilar | 07 June, 2018, 14:09

The US State Department has evacuated at least two more Americans who fell ill after hearing unusual noises in China, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, another instance of a mysterious malady linked to sound that has affected US diplomats in Cuba and China.

The new evacuations come after the U.S. sent a medical team to Guangzhou to screen American government workers.

The department said it had sent a team to Guangzhou and set up a task force to oversee the response to the mystery attacks in China and Cuba.

A health alert has been issued by the USA embassy in Guangzhou, warning Americans living or working in China to take action if "unusual sounds or piercing noises" are heard.

The new illnesses in China come just weeks after U.S. officials reported finding their first case in Guangzhou, where a consulate employee got sick after reporting disturbing noises.

Last month the U.S. issued a health alert to its citizens in China after one of its consulate workers suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, similar to a string of mysterious medical problems among U.S. diplomats in Cuba a year ago.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported in March that a study of 21 former Havana staffers found "most experienced persistent cognitive, balance, hearing, oculomotor dysfunction, or all 4, as well as sleep impairment and headaches".

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The State Department was not immediately available to comment and Reuters did not independently verify the report.

The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the U.S. consular employee in Guangzhou suffered symptoms that were "very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications of the Americans working in Havana".

Since 2016, 24 employees at the American embassy in Cuba and their family members have reported similar episodes.

"U.S. medical professionals will continue to conduct full evaluations to determine the cause of the reported symptoms and whether the findings are consistent with those noted in previously affected government personnel or possibly completely unrelated", Nauert said. The United States also expelled 15 Cuban diplomats in retaliation, accusing Cuba of failing to protect American envoys. That person reported abnormal sensations of sound and pressure before being diagnosed with a mild brain injury. Investigators still haven't determined the source.

Pompeo told congress that the medical symptoms of the incident in China are similar to those suffered by USA diplomats in Cuba allegedly hit by "sonic" attacks.

Canada in April also ordered families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home after mysterious health symptoms were detected in 10 Canadians stationed on the island.

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