United States staffer suffers brain injury after 'sound' incident in China

Security workers at the construction site of the US consulate compound in Guangzhou in 2009

A health alert sent Wednesday said a us government employee assigned to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou reported "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure".

The Canadian government in April said it would remove families of diplomats posted to Cuba after Canadian personnel there in 2017 also reported similar health symptoms.

Emily Rauhala, The Washington Post's China correspondent, reported that the State Department confirmed the USA worker's ailment was diagnosed as a mild traumatic brain injury, something U.S. officials in Cuba also experienced.

The State Department said in its Wednesday statement that anyone who experienced "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena" while in China should move away from the source of the noise.

Embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee said the employee reported the symptoms beginning late a year ago and they lasted through April.

Last October, the State Department ordered non-essential embassy personnel and the families of all staff to leave Havana, arguing the US could not protect them from unexplained illnesses that have harmed at least 24 Americans.

It added the Chinese government told the embassy it is also investigating and taking appropriate measures.

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The diplomats said when they left rooms in the embassy, the symptoms and sounds immediately stopped.

In November 2016, United States diplomatic staff in Cuba said they began to experience symptoms and were subsequently treated for hearing loss, dizziness, balance problems and insomnia, all of which occurred after their exposure to alleged acoustic attacks.

The worker was sent to the United States for further evaluation.

Staff there reported symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness, fatigue and cognitive issues, though Cuban officials dismissed the idea of acoustic strikes as "science fiction" and accused Washington of slander.

Officials initially suspected the Americans had been targeted by an acoustic weapon, but media reports have suggested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been unable to verify any evidence to support that theory.

The incident prompted the United States a year ago to withdraw more than half of its personnel at the embassy in Havana, which reopened in 2015 as the two nations re-established diplomatic relations that had ruptured in 1961.

The still-unexplained incidents sparked a rift in US-Cuban relations, while investigators have pursued theories including a sonic attack, electromagnetic weapon or flawed spying device. The cause of those incidents, reported in late 2016 and early 2017, still remains a mystery. Symptoms included headaches and hearing loss.

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