Havana syndrome, the mysterious condition that has affected American diplomats, tourists and others around the world, has puzzled experts for years.
A recent report from U.S. intelligence officials found that rumors that Russia — or another adversary — were targeting Americans with directed energy are unlikely to be true.
This may have left more questions than answers as the world now wonders what causes these diseases.
Here DailyMail.com explains what it means for the greater search for an explanation:
After US officials and embassy personnel reported hundreds of cases in nearly 70 countries, new reports of Havana syndrome fell sharply from early 2022
What does the latest intelligence report add?
Since cases of anomalous health incidents (AHIs), popularly known as Havana syndrome, began to emerge among diplomats stationed there in 2016, defense officials, victims and lawmakers have alleged that a foreign adversary was clandestinely using pulsed electromagnetic energy and ultrasound technology. has armed.
That has been determined by five US intelligence agencies it was ‘very unlikely’ that a foreign adversary was responsible for the symptoms, which range widely and include pain and ringing in the ears, splitting headaches, cognitive problems, dizziness and nausea.
For some of the approximately 1,000 cases in the US, the symptoms are chronic.
Shattering the long-disputed notion that US officials were targeted on purpose, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines said Wednesday: “(Intelligence) assesses that the symptoms reported by US personnel were likely due to factors not involving a foreign adversary. . , such as pre-existing conditions, conventional diseases and environmental factors.’
Officials behind the report also said they found no common thread between different cases or any evidence that a foreign power had used any form of directed energy, such as radio waves or ultrasonic beams.
Despite the intelligence community’s consensus, the debate is not over, as some Republican lawmakers have said.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said on Thursday: “On the face of it, I am concerned that the intelligence community has actually concluded that U.S. personnel reporting AHI symptoms were simply experiencing symptoms caused by environmental factors, illness or pre-existing conditions and may be rushing to a conclusion while a substantial number of questions remain.
“As I’ve said before, something happened here and just because you don’t have all the answers doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I do not accept that all these reported cases were coincidences.’
The mysterious food is named after the US Embassy in Havana (above) where the first cases were reported in 2016, and hundreds of people have since reported symptoms
Where does the term ‘Havana syndrome’ come from?
The name has its origins in the original cases that began in November 2016 through June 2018 among 25 US diplomats stationed in Havana, Cuba.
The State Department described what it saw as “medically confirmed symptoms,” including headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, confusion and disorientation.
In some cases, they also include difficulty walking, insomnia, sensitivity to sound, ear pain and pressure, tinnitus, and brain abnormalities that resemble concussion-like symptoms.
After the first cases appeared in Cuba and were made public, diplomats went abroad in countries such as Uzbekistan, China, Germany, Vietnam and Colombia.
Even before the cause was determined, officials in the former Trump administration decided the cases were a by-product of foul play by the Cuban government, straining already fraught relations with the communist-led island.
What could it cause?
The origin of the anomalous condition is unclear, although some experts state that this was a case of massive psychogenic illness.
Scientists in California and New Zealand argued in 2020 that the emergence of mysterious symptoms in Havana was a psychological response to the stressful post-Cold War conditions diplomats lived in, as well as rumors of a “new and puzzling sonic device.”
They said, “These psychogenic symptoms associated with US soldiers living under constant stress parallel those reported by the US diplomats who worked under constant surveillance while living on foreign soil under the specter of the Cold War.
“The symptoms of the American diplomats in Havana closely match those associated with war trauma — right down to the concussion-like symptoms that have often puzzled doctors who have historically misdiagnosed it as brain trauma.”
Complicating the situation further, Trump-era Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told about 3 million military personnelcivil officials and contractors in a letter two years ago to be wary of symptoms consistent with the so-called Havana syndrome.
Meanwhile, a 2020 scientific assessment determined that radiofrequency energy, a type of radiation that includes microwaves, was the most likely cause of the injuries.
It wasn’t until two years later that the intelligence community concluded that the mysterious cases were likely not caused by Russia or any other foreign adversary, which served as the basis for this week’s most recent IC report.
Were the cases elsewhere similar to those in Cuba?
The issue started with a few reports among diplomats in Cuba, but has since spread to about 1,000 people — both US citizens and foreign officials — claiming to have experienced similar symptoms.
In January 2019, as his symptoms worsened, a senior Canadian diplomat was removed from his post in Havana.
An unnamed diplomat from the Ottawa area experienced memory loss, cognitive problems and dizziness, and said he felt “like a zombie.”
In China, US diplomat Catherine Werner was awoken one night in 2017 by a pulsating, buzzing sound in her apartment in Guangzhou, China.
She also felt an intense pressure in her head. As the sounds and sensations recurred each night, her health continued to deteriorate with frequent vomiting, headaches and loss of balance.
Once transferred to the United States, Ms. Werner was found to have a vision impairment, a balance disorder and an “organic brain injury” – diagnoses similar to those of the roughly two dozen diplomats who fell ill in Cuba as of 2016.
What happens now?
President Joe Biden has been pretty goofy about Havana Syndrome, with the exception of signing the 2021 Havana Act authorizing Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and the CIA Director, William J. Burns, to provide financial assistance to employees who have sustained brain injuries.
When asked if the president was satisfied with the determination of the intelligence community, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clouded an indirect answer.
She said, “What’s important to the president is that we take this very seriously, as do the intelligence community.
“What we are committed to is making sure our staff and their families get the help they need through medical care. And look, the work continues.’
Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are unlikely to stop pushing for research into the causes of Havana syndrome.
In addition to Sen. Rubio weighing in, GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, also from Florida, saidThis report is a brutal precursor to the Biden administration removing Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism – a move they have been working on since taking office.
The speculation of the causes as “pre-existing conditions, conventional diseases and environmental factors” not only contradicts the findings of a panel of experts and does not adequately name the cause of what happened, but the report is an insult for the dozens of hard-working American employees and their families who suffered severe brain damage and other symptoms as a result of these AHIs.”
What is ‘Havana Syndrome’? The mysterious illness that started in the US embassy in Cuba and caused memory and hearing loss
The problem has been dubbed “Havana Syndrome” because the first cases hit U.S. Embassy staff in Cuba in 2016.
At least 200 cases across the government are now under investigation.
People believed to be 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 symptoms came on suddenly.
Countries reported in: Cuba, United States, China, Russia, Vietnam, Austria, Germany, Serbia, United Kingdom, Georgia, Poland, Taiwan, Australia, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
– severe headache
– memory problems