Three US diplomats in Geneva and one in Paris were the latest to be afflicted with the suspected ‘Havana Syndrome’ – with one rushed back to America with the mystery illness.
Last summer, the four officials serving at U.S. diplomatic missions in Geneva and Paris came down with ailments linked to ‘Havana Syndrome’ -an unexplained illness that is believed to be caused inadvertently by surveillance equipment or by a mysterious sonic weapon.
Of the three American officials serving at the consulate in Geneva, at least one had to be medevacked from Switzerland to the U.S. for treatment, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A similar incident occurred in Paris, where senior embassy officials informed diplomats and encouraged others to report any unusual symptoms (U.S. Embassy in Paris pictured)
At least one of the three American serving at the consulate in Geneva (pictured) believed to be inflicted had to be medevacked from Switzerland to the U.S. for treatment
Staff were later informed about the incident by the mission’s leadership during a town hall meeting.
This was followed by a similar incident in Paris, where senior embassy officials informed diplomats via email about a suspected case, encouraging others to report any unusual symptoms, WSJ reported.
In response to the new reported incidents U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the entire federal government is working to get to the bottom of the illness.
‘To date, we don’t know exactly what’s happened and we don’t know exactly who is responsible,’ Blinken told MSNBC on Thursday.
The incidents in Geneva and Paris took place where the U.S and Russia held security talks on Monday over Moscow’s troop buildup near the Ukraine border.
Blinken said the United States has raised the illnesses with the Russians but still cannot make a determination about who was responsible.
The Secretary of State added he has met with State Department employees around the world who described the illnesses and how these incidents disrupted their lives.
The sonic weapon the could cause Havana syndrome is said to be a smaller version of this 1990s Soviet microwave generator, which is kept at the University of New Mexico
Symptoms of Havana Syndrome include loud noise, ear pain, intense head pressure or vibration, dizziness, visual problems, and cognitive difficulties
‘There is no doubt in my mind that people have been directly and powerfully affected,’ he said.
‘We are working overtime across the entire government to get to the bottom of what happened, who’s responsible. And in the meantime to make sure that we’re caring for anyone who’s been affected and to protect all of our people to the best of our ability,’ he added.
Symptoms of Havana Syndrome include loud noise, ear pain, intense head pressure or vibration, dizziness, visual problems, and cognitive difficulties, and many still continue to experience these or other health problems, according to a 2020 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report.
The report assessed the symptoms to be ‘consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed radio frequency (RF) energy.’
Some have reported hearing a loud noise before the sudden onset of symptoms.
But it’s unclear if victims sustain any neurological damage or any longterm damage and it’s unclear what might have caused that damage.
The syndrome first surfaced at the US embassy in Havana, when government employees suddenly found themselves afflicted with the mysterious malady
Scientists and government officials are not yet certain about who might have been behind the attacks, if the symptoms could have been caused inadvertently by surveillance equipment – or if the incidents were caused by a mysterious sonic weapon.
Some doubt its existence, however, and call it ‘mass hysteria.’
The leading theory behind the cause of the suddenly surfaced syndrome starts with a device that scientists say Russia could have invented during the Cold War, which was later used to spy on US embassies by collecting data from laptops and cell phones.
However, experts now theorize that a hostile country – like Russia or China – may have turned this microwave technology into a weapon.
Both countries deny any involvement in any of the incidents relating to the mysterious syndrome.
The European incidents now add to the list of roughly 200 reported cases of the yet unexplained illness, colloquially named for its first reported case in 2016 at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba.
Almost half of the cases involved CIA officers or their relatives, nearly 60 have been linked to Department of Defense workers or relatives, and about 50 involved State Department personnel the outlet reported.
What is ‘Havana Syndrome’? The mysterious illness that started in the US embassy in Cuba and causes memory and hearing loss
The problem has been labeled the ‘Havana Syndrome,’ because the first cases affected personnel in 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.
At least 200 cases across the government are now under investigation.
People who are believed to have been affected have reported headaches, dizziness and symptoms consistent with concussions, with some requiring months of medical treatment. Some have reported hearing a loud noise before the sudden onset of symptoms.
Countries its been reported in: Cuba, United States, China, Russia, Vietnam, Austria, Germany, Serbia, United Kingdom, Georgia, Poland, Taiwan, Australia, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan
Back in September, Vice President Kamala Harris’ departure from Singapore during her Asia trip was delayed by more than three hours because of an ‘anomalous health incident in Hanoi,’ which was the next stop in her Asia trip.
That was a reference to Havana Syndrome.
A December report in the Washington Examiner speculated that former President George W. Bush could have also been a victim of Havana Syndrome when he fell ill at a G8 conference in Germany in 2007.
At the gathering of world leaders, both Bush and Laura Bush fell ill with symptoms of ‘nausea or dizziness,’ as the former first lady outlined in her 2010 memoir ‘Spoken from the Heart.’ Some aides traveling with them experienced hearing and balance problems.
The official conclusion at the time was a virus. Although there was speculation that the first couple could have been poisoned.
The Examiner report points to Russia as the culprit. Havana Syndrome is believed to be caused by microwave emissions and Moscow is known to have employed RF/MW capabilities since the Cold War. During the Cold War, the Soviets repeatedly irradiated the American embassy in Moscow with low-level microwaves – known as the ‘Moscow Signal’ – for unknown reasons.
In October, three Havana Syndrome sufferers came forward to share the agonizing symptoms of the disease, with two of them claiming it left them brain damaged and destroyed their promising diplomatic careers.
Tina Onefur, Kate Husband, and Husband’s partner Doug Ferguson were all working for the US State Department, stationed in Cuba’s capital, when they found themselves afflicted with the mysterious malady.
The syndrome first surfaced at the embassy in Havana in 2016 – months before Onefur, Husband, and Ferguson were diagnosed.
The three described their debilitating symptoms – which include hearing loss, severe headaches, memory issues, dizziness, grogginess and even brain damage – in detail during an interview with NBC News last year.
Onefur, sobbed as she spoke and recalling the fact she can now only work two hours a day from home due to doctor-diagnosed brain damage, and said she was washing dishes one night in March 2017 at her home in Havana when she suddenly found herself overcome with pain.
‘The kids were upstairs playing, and I was standing at the kitchen window, and all of a sudden I felt like I was being struck with something.’
When asked what the sensation felt like, Onefur said the pain was like nothing she had ever felt before in her life, and explained, ‘It was gripping – it was like I’d been seized by some invisible hand, and I couldn’t move.’
When asked by interviewer Andrea Mitchell how her health is today, Onefur, choking back tears revealed that her symptoms were still as strong and prevalent as ever, even after more than four years.
‘It’s not easy to talk about our health because it’s an invisible injury,’ Onefur said,
‘It’s four-and-a-half years of of excruciating headaches, it’s four-and-a-half years of stumbling losing my balance, four-and-a-half years of vision degradation,’ Onefur asserts of the illness, while breaking down in tears.
In a nearby neighborhood in Havana in the winter months of 2016, Kate Husband and Doug Ferguson were working in the US embassy by day, with their nights spent together at their shared home.
But nights for the couple – who both hail from Michigan – would often be strangely interrupted, by a high-pitched, piercing noise seemingly coming from their backyard.
‘It was persistent, kind of at the same level all the time,’ Husband said of the shrill sound, which they never managed to identify, adding it was ‘very, very loud’ and ‘nothing you can sit with.’
Ferguson, however, managed to capture the mysterious noise on his phone and played it back for Mitchell during the interview.
The sound on the recording – a high-frequency ringing that somewhat resembles a dog whistle – is strikingly similar to a sound previously released by AP in a 2017 covering the then just-surfaced syndrome.
When asked if any other people in her neighborhood had heard the same sounds and was afflicted with similar symptoms, Husband said they had.
After feeling a slew of symptoms in the coming months, the couple was later examined by neurologists at the University of Pennsylvania.
In early 2017, Ferguson was cleared to go back to work, but Husband was diagnosed with brain damage by doctors, and was subsequently sent to receive treatment.
Husband told Mitchell that during the diagnosis, a doctor told her, after analyzing scans of her brain, ‘it’s like you aged 20, 25 years all at once.’
She later retired from her work for the State Department on the grounds of a medical disability.
Husband further revealed during the interview that she still suffers from balance issues associated with the brain damage she suffered after the 2017 diagnosis – a sensation that would trigger violent bouts of nausea, and a fogginess that makes even the most basic tasks difficult.