United States warns citizens in China after 'abnormal' sound injures consulate worker

US gov't worker reports

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

The US embassy in China issued a health alert Wednesday after a US government employee who had experienced an "abnormal" sound was diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

The embassy spokesperson told CBS News that the Chinese government had "assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures".

United States officials in Cuba, and their families, started describing unexplained health problems between November 2016 to August 2017. The U.S. also expelled 15 Cuban officials from its embassy in Washington.

"The embassy learned that the clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic brain injury", Lee said.

The State Department employee who suffered the brain injury worked in the city of Guangzhou in southern China.

The State Department says it doesn't know what caused the reported symptoms in Guangzhou, and isn't aware of any other similar cases in China.

Though some experts expressed doubt when the possibility of a sonic attack in Cuba was first raised, the State Department points to a study by independent medical personnel published earlier this year in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The (State) Department is taking this incident very seriously and is working to determine the cause and impact of the incident", US Embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee told Agence France-Presse.

CNN has reached out to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs but has not yet received a response on this matter.

Initially officials suspected the Americans had been targeted by some sort of acoustic weapon, although in public senior officials were more cautious, speaking of "health attacks".

The embassy warned workers in China to move away from the source of the noise if they experience "any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomenon" with "unusual sounds of piercing noises". "Various descriptions were given: "a high-pitched beam of sound"; an "incapacitating sound"; a "baffling sensation" akin to driving with the windows partially open in a auto; or just an intense pressure in one ear".

The report comes as the U.S.is seeking to negotiate concessions from China to narrow its trade deficit.

Staff there reported symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness, fatigue and cognitive issues.

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