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State Dept.: Employee in China suffers possible sonic attack

23 May 2018

The employee experienced the symptoms from late 2017 through April 2018 while on assignment in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where a USA consulate is located, according to Jinnie Lee, a spokeswoman at the US embassy in Beijing.

The US embassy in China yesterday issued a health alert after a US government employee experienced an "abnormal" sound and suffered a mild brain injury in an incident reminiscent of a mysterious illness that hit diplomats in Cuba. "We do not now know what caused the reported symptoms and we are not aware of any similar situations in China", the statement said.

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

It advised anyone who experiences "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises" to not seek out the source, but instead to move to a location where they are not present.

The employee was sent to the United States for evaluation and treatment. USA officials made no reference to Cuba, where similar reports have been made in relation to two dozen Americans, reports CBS News.

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The employee at the U.S. Consulate in the southeastern Chinese city of Guangzhou has been left with mild traumatic brain injury, U.S. officials tell CBS News.

In 2016 US embassy staff in Cuba said they had suffered dizziness, nausea and hearing problems.

The federal employee reported experiencing physical symptoms from late 2017 through April 2018, when he or she returned to the US for medical evaluation.

The U.S. government has about 2,000 employees posted to China.

Although details on the Guangzhou employee's condition is unclear, Jinnie Lee, a US embassy spokeswoman in Beijing confirmed that the staffer had experienced a number of physical health symptoms over the past year, reported the Washington Post.

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China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

In October, a State Department official said the USA had "received a handful of reports from US citizens who report they experienced similar symptoms following stays in Cuba".

At a congressional hearing in January, US officials detailed how personnel came to experience a variety of symptoms including sharp ear pain, headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, attention issues and signs consistent with mild traumatic brain injury or concussion.

Cuban officials dismissed the idea of acoustic strikes as "science fiction" and accused Washington of slander.

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The US originally called the Cuba incidents "sonic attacks", but later backed off that phrasing as medical experts examined the patients and found their symptoms and conditions of mysterious origins.

State Dept.: Employee in China suffers possible sonic attack