United States employee suffers brain injury in China after 'abnormal sounds'

A US government employee in China reported abnormal sensations of sound and pressure ahead of being diagnosed with a mild brain injury, in a case reminiscent of diplomats who fell ill in Cuba a year ago.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that "the medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent" with the symptoms reported by Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.

Pompeo said the USA was moving medical teams to the area to work on the case. "We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana and now in China as well".

Embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee told U.S. media the employee suffered a mild traumatic brain injury while working at the USA consulate in the city of Guangzhou. The employee was brought to the United States for medical evaluation and on May 18 the Embassy learned that the clinical findings of the evaluation showed mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States will send a medical team to Guangzhou next week to conduct baseline medical evaluations of all employees who desire one. "The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures".

"We can not at this time connect it with what happened in Havana but we are investigating all possibilities", a U.S. embassy official in Beijing told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity. Cuba has denied any involvement in the attacks.

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The still-unexplained incidents sparked a rift in US-Cuban relations, while investigators have pursued theories including a sonic attack, electromagnetic weapon or flawed spying device.

For most the symptoms occurred around May 2017, but they were first reported in late 2016. "These individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma".

The State Department warned those who experience any "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises" to leave the area immediately. In almost all cases, the ailments were preceded by some sort of "acoustic element", such as a "high-pitched beam of sound" or a "baffling sensation akin to driving with the windows partially open in a vehicle".

Meanwhile, the US State Department stated that the US consulate worker in southern China that had earlier reported symptoms similar to those of mild brain injury and head concussion returned to the US for further examination. "Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present", the recommendation said. However, the noises were only reportedly heard by US citizens, and not Cuban staff.

The People's Republic of China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly.

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