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U.S. employee suffers brain injury in China after 'abnormal sounds'

U.S. employee suffers brain injury in China after 'abnormal sounds'

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.

The employee was brought to the United States for medical evaluation and on May 18 the Embassy learned that the clinical findings of the evaluation showed mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

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.

"If you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source", the alert said.

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. "Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present", the alert advised.

"The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures", she said, according to the AFP news agency.

China's Foreign Ministry and National Health Commission did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the report.

"We do not now know what caused the reported symptoms and we are not aware of any similar situations in China, either inside or outside of the diplomatic community".

The incident appears similar to unexplained "sonic attacks" on diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba a year ago.

Charles Rosenfarb, a doctor and director of the State Department bureau of medical services, said the symptoms were mixed but consistent with brain trauma.

For most the symptoms occurred around May 2017, but they were first reported in late 2016.

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.

The diplomats described concussion-like symptoms like hearing loss, dizziness, balance problems, visual complaints, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. Media reports have suggested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has not been able to verify any evidence to support the sonic weapon theory.

"The cause (of their symptoms) remains unknown but could be human-made", the Canadian government concluded. Officials believe some type of sonic weapon may have been used.

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