Chirps, hums, and phantom noises: The sounds heard as U.S. diplomats suffered brain damage from attacks in Cuba

While no one has yet been able to determine what weapon was used to attack U.S. diplomats in Cuba, they all heard the same or similar sounds during those attacks. Among the immediate effects they felt after hearing these chirps, hums, and phantom sounds were loss of hearing, headaches, and nausea. And for some, the permanent effects have been brain damage.

Via The Washington Post:

Chirps, hums and phantom noises — how bizarre events in Cuba changed embassy workers’ brains

They would sometimes wake in the night to hear a disembodied chirping somewhere in the room, or a strange, low hum, or the sound of scraping metal.

Sometimes they felt a phantom flutter of air pass by as they listened. Others in the room would often not notice a thing, the Associated Press reported, and the noises would cease if the person moved just a few feet away.

And then, usually within 24 hours of these bizarre events, bad things happened to those who heard the noises.

What exactly two dozen Americans experienced at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba — in incidents last year and then again in August — remains a mystery to science and the FBI. They have alternately been blamed on a high-tech sonic weapon or a mysterious disease, and have caused a diplomatic crisis because U.S. officials blame Cuba for the attacks.

Now physicians are preparing to release a report on what happened to the people who heard the sounds, the AP reports, including physical changes in their brains.

Workers and their spouses at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Havana began complaining of maladies in late 2016, as Anne Gearan wrote for The Washington Post, after hearing strange, localized sounds in their homes.

Their symptoms included a loss of hearing or sight, vertigo and nausea. Some people struggled to recall common words.

For lack of other explanations, U.S. officials initially blamed a “covert sonic weapon,” the AP reported. Although medical experts largely dismissed the theory, the United States continues to blame the incidents on the Cuban government and has recalled many diplomatic workers, and considered closing the embassy, which opened in 2015.

Meanwhile, the AP reported, physicians at the University of Miami and the University of Pennsylvania have been treating the victims and trying to figure out what happened to them.

While what caused the phantom sounds is still unknown, tests have revealed at least some of the workers suffered damage to the white matter that lets different parts of their brains communicate with each other.

The physicians are planning to publish their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, according to the AP, which quoted several unnamed U.S. officials who aren’t authorized to talk about the investigation.

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