U.S. Sends Medical Team to China Amid Reports of Mystery Ailment


The United States has evacuated government workers out of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou after medical testing revealed they might have been affected by unexplained health incidents that have already hurt USA personnel in Cuba, the State Department said Wednesday.

Last year, 24 U.S. government employees and family members in Cuba displayed the symptoms, which were similar to those related to concussion and mild traumatic brain injury, according to the State Department.

A health alert has been issued by the United States embassy in Guangzhou, warning Americans living or working in China to take action if "unusual sounds or piercing noises" are heard.

"Beijing has already conducted an investigation and dismissed concerns, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang saying last month, "[So] far, we have found no reason or clue for what was reported by the U.S.".

China earlier said it had looked into the case announced last month but came up with no clues about the cause of the symptoms. Most of the incidents were accompanied by weird, unexplained sounds that initially led USA investigators to suspect a sonic attack.

While symptoms the diplomats and their family members experienced in Cuba varied, in all 24 medically confirmed cases victims have described some combination of the following: "sharp ear pain, tiresome headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, visual focusing issues, disorientation, nausea, and extreme fatigue".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that as far as she was aware, the government had not had any formal communication with United States officials on any new cases, and that it had investigated an initial incident. That person reported abnormal sensations of sound and pressure before being diagnosed with a mild brain injury. China said last month that it had found no explanation.

However, after reports of the illnesses of the embassy staff members reached US President Donald Trump, he expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the United States.

The Penn team said the patients from Cuba experienced persistent disability though rehabilitation therapy customized for them seemed to help.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the department has established a task force "to direct a multi-agency response to the unexplained health incidents".

The cause of the odd sonic incidents, which have resulted in diagnosed mild traumatic brain injury in at least one of the cases from China, remains a mystery, even after months of FBI investigation into similar incidents experienced by two dozen US employees in Havana, which failed to uncover the perpetrators or reasons for the unusual, debilitating experiences.

It serves four southern provinces with a combined population of more than 204 million and processes more than 1 million visa applications of all types annually.

"This does not fit with China's basic concept and principles of diplomacy, and is inconceivable".

Aled Williams, a British teacher at a kindergarten said Thursday that the reports sounded "sci-fi-ish".