US Issues Alert in China 'Abnormal Sensations of Sound'

US gov't worker reports

A US government employee in southern China reported abnormal sensations of sound and pressure, the State Department said Wednesday, recalling similar experiences among American diplomats in Cuba who later fell ill.

"While in China, 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 advised. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States will send a medical team to Guangzhou next week to conduct baseline medical evaluations of all employees who desire one.

USA diplomats there experienced possible "sonic attacks", and the US eventually reduced the number of American employees there.

The employee reported these symptoms between late 2017 and April 2018 and was later diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, the BBC reported.

A US Diplomatic official told CNN the State Department "is looking into whether this is a sonic attack, similar to what happened in Cuba".

"The US government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event", the State Department warned in a health alert.

Paramilitary police officer guards the entrance to the USA embassy in Beijing, China, April 5, 2018.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the brain injury sustained by an American official in China was "very similar" to those that affected USA and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. "Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present", recommends the State Department.

"We can not at this time connect it with what happened in Havana, but we are investigating all possibilities", a United States embassy official told Reuters.

"The unique circumstances of these patients and the consistency of the clinical manifestations raised concern for a novel mechanism of a possible acquired brain injury from a directional exposure of undetermined etiology", a study about the victims in Cuba concluded.

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

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.

The Chinese foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

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