In one of the strangest and latest cases that have sparked all sorts of conspiracy theories, we have the Havana Syndrome, a condition deemed by the government as a set of “anomalous health incidents,” and that even today hasn’t really been fully explained. This rare syndrome has mainly affected U.S. and Canadian government officials, military staff, spies, and diplomats, as well as some close family members.
While symptoms vary in each patient, the high number of cases and incidents revolving around some strange and mysterious set of conditions set off alarms bells inside the US government whose first guess was that these officials had been in contact with some sort of sonic or acoustic device. After six years, and despite several and thorough research, it’s still unclear what’s causing this.
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Why is it called Havana Syndrome?
The now-called Havana Syndrome was first reported in late 2016, by government staff members (diplomats, intelligence officers, spies, military personnel, etc) based in Cuba that had been sent to make an approach between both countries during the presidency of Barack Obama. Around 21 people reported several symptoms including hearing and vision difficulties, balance issues, and memory loss.
Soon, these cases became public, sparking all sorts of theories, including an attack made by the Cuban government against this U.S. government personnel; however, as soon as the news became public, the Cuban government denied the accusations and offered to cooperate with the U.S. government to investigate the cases. They immediately employed over tho thousand scientists and officers to go through each spot and place the patients had been to as well as interviews to those the patients had been exposed to.
Not only did this first investigation take to nowhere, but over the years, cases similar to these would appear from personnel based in over a dozen countries. U.S. and Canadian officials are the main patients.
What are Havana Syndrome’s main symptoms?
As mentioned, the Havana Syndrome symptoms vary depending on each individual, but among the most common ones are hearing, vision, and memory loss, as well as nausea pain and ringing in the ears, and several cognitive difficulties. At first, especially with the 21 first patients reported in Cuba, what made it even stranger was that their family members and even those staying in neighboring rooms at the hotel didn’t present any of the symptoms, which only increased the suspicions of a possible attack at specific targets.
The first investigations ended up concluding that the symptoms presented by the 21 patients resembled those of persistent concussions. Some of the patients recovered rapidly while others kept experiencing these symptoms for months. All in all, it all pointed to some sort of collective injury to widespread brain networks.
An attack or simply rare condition?
For years, research has tried to come up with a collective explanation of this syndrome or a series of medical conditions with no success. While there are plausible explanations for individual cases, in over twenty cases it’s still impossible to rule out a foreign attack. Still, in a recent statement issued this month, the CIA ruled out any hostile involvement regarding the hundreds of officials that have experienced Havana syndrome.
The announcement was met with disappointment by patients and people who strongly believe this was a scheming attack made by a foreign enemy, but investigation after investigation has found this theory unfounded and unlikely. Throughout these years, many possible causes have come out either from research teams or the public imagination even including microwaves, and the sound of crickets heard in cellphone calls made by the patients during the time they experienced the symptoms.
Of all the over two hundred cases, as mentioned, only over 20 are still a mystery with no apparent possible explanation. Still, this doesn’t prove a super sophisticated attack was involved. Probably, the case will remain under investigation by other branches of the government and scientific teams, though so far, the main probable causes involve ultrasound exposure, pesticide ingestion, or mass psychogenic illness.