US employee suffers brain injury in China after ‘abnormal sounds’

Embassy alerts staff over consulate worker’s report of sound and pressure sensations

Image for illustrative purpose only.


China: A US consulate worker in southern China has a mild traumatic brain injury, after reporting abnormal sensations of sound and pressure, the US embassy has said.

The symptoms described recall those of US embassy workers in Cuba, believed to be the target of invisible attacks, although the US embassy in Beijing did not link the case to that in Havana.

“The department is taking this incident very seriously and is working to determine the cause and impact of the incident,” said a US embassy spokeswoman, Jinnie Lee. “The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures.”

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

The employee working in Guangzhou, whose symptoms of “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure” lasted from late 2016 through to April 2018, had been sent to the US for medical evaluation. The embassy learned of her brain injury last week and issued a health alert to US citizens in China on Wednesday.

The embassy advised Americans experiencing “unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises” not to attempt to locate the source of the sound but to move away from the location, and seek medical help.

Last year, doctors evaluating more than 20 US government workers in Cuba found brain abnormalities in the employees, who reported ear-ringing and hearing loss after experiencing loud sounds. However, some doctors and scientists said they believed the situation was being spun for political gain .

Investigators at one point suspected a “sonic attack” or use of an electromagnetic weapon. The US last year withdrew embassy staff and advised Americans not to visit the country, pushing US-Cuba relations to a low.
In May, the US formally complained to China over allegations Chinese nationals had pointed military-grade lasers at a US military aircraft near Djibouti, where both countries have bases, causing two US pilots to suffer mild eye injuries. China denies the accusations.

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