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USA employee suffers brain injury in China after 'abnormal sounds'

USA employee suffers brain injury in China after 'abnormal sounds'

An American working at the US Consulate in southern China reported experiencing "abnormal" sounds and pressure that resulted in a mild brain injury - reminiscent of a mysterious illness that recently hit diplomats in Cuba, officials said Wednesday.

The government worker has returned to the U.S for further evaluation of the mild traumatic brain injury.

The embassy, which issued a health alert to Americans living in China, said it could not link the case to health issues suffered by USA government staff in Cuba dating back to late 2016.

The State Department said in its Wednesday statement that anyone who experienced "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena" while in China should move away from the source of the noise.

The United States a year ago made a decision 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.

USA officials in Cuba, and their families, started describing unexplained health problems between November 2016 to August 2017.

The US state department has urged its staff in China to alert them to any abnormal hearing or vision issues after one employee reported mystery symptoms.

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More than 20 members of staff in Havana were harmed in the "health attacks", according to the state department.

A U.S. official told the AFP newswire that the victim experienced "a variety of physical symptoms" between late 2017 through April 2018.

The still-unexplained incidents sparked a rift in US-Cuban relations with the US expelling 15 Cuban diplomats from the United States for what it said was Cuba's failure to protect its staff. On May 18, the embassy learned that the diagnosis was mild traumatic brain injury.

Responding to these claims, the Cuban Foreign Ministry denied any Cuban involvement in the alleged attacks.

"The (State) Department is taking this incident very seriously and is working to determine the cause and impact of the incident", Lee said. "The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures", a consular spokeswoman explained to The Washington Post.

Investigators suspected use of a "sonic weapon", but there has been no proof that was the cause. The State Department ultimately confirmed 21 cases in Cuba.

The symptoms included dizziness, headaches and a lack of ability to concentrate.


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