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‘Sonic Attacks’ on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba Auditory Dysfunction Remains Unsolved.

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Offline sr john

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The Hearing Journal: April 2019 - Volume 72 - Issue 4 - p 22,23,26  .
It was a scene straight out of “Star Trek,” according to the New York Times. While stationed in Havana, Cuba in late  2016, U.S. Embassy workers and their families at home and in hotel rooms heard a powerful, high-pitched sound and, with it, felt a high-pressure sensation. For some, problems with hearing, headaches, and cognition followed. The symptoms were serious enough to warrant evacuation from the country, generate a fair amount of diplomatic upheaval, and cause observers worldwide to scratch their heads and wonder if something truly was rotten in the city of Havana.
  More than two years since the incidents began, United States-Cuba relations haven't recovered, and speculation  continues about who would carry out the so-called “sonic attacks.” Cuba, a rogue faction there, Russia, and even North Korea have been floated as possible culprits.1 As well, the inevitable questions of why, and exactly how, the attacks were carried out also exist.

But over the past year, more details about the strange episodes—which occurred in Havana through early 2017 (and apparently in Guangzhou, China, in 2018, although the U.S. government has not officially linked the cases)—and their effect on the people who experienced them have begun to emerge.2,3 But instead of fitting together soundly, investigation updates are providing more twisty-turny pieces to this still-unsolved puzzle.

When a tight-knit community suddenly experiences similar symptoms of mysterious origin, collective delusion is a natural suspicion. Consequently, when news of the phenomenon in Havana went public, many onlookers wondered both silently and aloud whether it was a case of mass hysteria.

In February 2018, a report4 published online in JAMA by a team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which had evaluated nearly two dozen of the patients six months after their exposure to the sound, addressed this concern. Judging from the chronic symptoms observed in the patients, no one was imagining anything, the team said.

“Several of the objective manifestations consistently found in this cohort (such as oculomotor and vestibular testing abnormalities) could not have been consciously or unconsciously manipulated,” wrote Randel L. Swanson II, DO, PhD, and colleagues.4

The report described chronic concussion-like symptoms experienced by the patients: cognitive symptoms plagued 81 percent of the patients; balance, visual, and auditory dys-functions affected 71, 86, and 68 percent, respectively; sleep impairment, 86 percent; and headaches, 76 percent. Objective findings alone supported cognitive abnormalities in 76 percent of patients evaluated, vestibular problems in 81 percent, and oculomotor issues in 71 percent. The team also reported moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss in three of the embassy employees. .

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