The unexplained sound ailing dozens of diplomats in Cuba may be getting worse in China — and the State Department has launched a task force to find out why.
At least one government worker in Guangzhou began complaining last month of symptoms associated with the mystery condition that plagued 24 Havana-based diplomats and their families beginning in 2016, according to State Department officials.
The employee first reported symptoms associated with concussions and “minor traumatic brain injury,” which include cognitive issues, headaches, hearing loss, insomnia and tinnitus, on May 16. Within a week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved the task force, according to a statement Tuesday.
The number of Americans believed to have contracted the mysterious illness — if that is what it is — may be rising to the point the U.S. felt the need to allocate a medical team to investigate the bizarre noises.
The medics arrived on May 31 and soon after, the State Department evacuated two Americans showing signs of the baffling sickness, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
One of the Americans was identified by the Times as Mark Lenzi after he and his wife began suffering from neurological problems for the past year. The couple and their two children left China last week.
He said he heard what sounded like “marbles rolling around a metal funnel” in his apartment complex, where other U.S. State employees also called home, according to the newspaper.
When the first case in Asia was made public, Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said his country had done its part in probing the strange illness.
“We haven’t found that any organization or individual has carried out such a sonic influence,” Wang said.
He suggested the U.S. carry out its own “internal investigation.”
When the symptoms began in Cuba, the U.S. booted several of its diplomats, believing the island nation was somehow responsible for the illness.
It’s unclear what is causing the sounds or how they give rise to the wide range of reported symptoms.
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