Havana Syndrome

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 23, 2023, 10:46

Havana Syndrome is a mysterious set of medical symptoms with unknown causes or origins. Even five years after it was first reported, Havana Syndrome is unknown. This syndrome has affected several spies and diplomats of the US Government and Embassies, with some complaining of having retired from their jobs due to this "illness".

Origin of The Havana Syndrome

It is experienced mostly by US Government Officials and Army Generals working abroad, with the first case being reported by Canadian and US Embassy people in Havana, Cuba, in 2016. US officials reported two separate cases of unexplained health incidents. It was not immediately clear who was affected by the syndrome or what caused it.

Alarmed by this, US Vice-President Kamala Harris' trip from Singapore to Vietnam was delayed. This led to the term "Havana Syndrome" creating a buzz in the news industry. In February 2022, a similar situation was felt by high-level national security officials of the White House.

Symptoms of Havana Syndrome

While the causes behind Havana Syndrome are not definitively determined, the symptoms in different cases were quite similar. The patients reported bizarre sounds and unexplainable illnesses. Other symptoms include hearing loss, visual problems, balance and cognitive difficulties, vertigo, nausea, dizziness, etc.

Havana Syndrome - Reports from National Academies of Sciences (NAS)

In 2020, a report was published by the NAS, and it was titled 'An Assessment of illness on US government employees and their families at overseas embassies. A committee of 19 experts from fields of medicine and more examined the symptoms of around 40 government employees. The team concluded with the thought that microwave radiation is one of the plausible causes behind the Havana Syndrome. Neither the US State Department nor the FBI has mentioned anything about microwave weapons as a cause of the Havana Syndrome.

Havana Syndrome - Microwave Weapons

Microwave Weapons are direct energy weapons that emit highly focused energy in solar, laser, or microwaves. People exposed to these kinds of microwave energy have reported a clicking or buzzing sound. Reports of acute and long-term effects have been found with no signs of physical damage.

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Havana Syndrome - US Government

The State Government and the Central Intelligence Agency have formed an internal task force to investigate the Havana Syndrome. The Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act was also passed in Congress. This will lead to additional medical and financial support for the affected intelligence officers and diplomats.

The US embassy in Cuba was not the only incident of the Havana Syndrome. CIA officer Marc Polmeropoulos was awakened in the Moscow hotel room with severe vertigo. Other CIA officers of London and Uzbekistan also reported symptoms. Mystery attacks took place in Syria on the US soldiers.

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Havana Syndrome - Key Findings

  • Havan Syndrome is a mysterious set of medical symptoms with unknown causes. The first case of Havana Syndrome was reported in Havana, Cuba, in 2016.
  • There have been multiple reports of similar cases of Havana Syndrome in different countries over the years, but the reason behind the illness still remains unknown.
  • In 2020, a report from NAS concluded that microwave radiation is one of the plausible causes behind the Havana Syndrome.
  • Canadian researchers have a different view of the Havana Syndrome. They suggest that the syndrome may be linked to certain chemicals used in pesticides, insecticides, and nerve gases.
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FAQs on Havana Syndrome

Q1. In what other countries has the "Havana Syndrome" been reported?

Multiple countries, including Moscow, Russia, Georgia, Poland, Taiwan, and Australia, have reported cases of the Havana Syndrome.

Q2. What are the symptoms of Havana Syndrome?

The symptoms of the Havana Syndrome include ringing ears, headaches, and fatigue. The reason behind the illness remains unknown.

Q3. Is the cause of Havana Syndrome psychological? Which countries have developed microwave weapons?

The reason behind the Havana Syndrome remains unknown. China displayed its microwave weapon, Poly WB-1, in 2014. A prototype model was developed by the US as well. It was the first non-lethal directed energy.

Q4. Has the FBI spoken about microwave attacks of the Havana Syndrome?

No such mention was made by the FBI or the US State Government. In 2020, only a report was published by the NAS. Havana Syndrome was titled An Assessment of illness on US government employees and their families at overseas embassies.

Q5. Have there been similar Havana Syndrome attacks on US embassy staff previously?

During the Cold War, the US embassy building in Moscow faced a similar microwave Havana Syndrome attack from 1953 to 1976.