For more than five years, about a thousand American and Canadian diplomats have been affected by a strange syndrome:Havana syndrome. However, it should be noted that this problem does not only concern diplomatic personnel in Cuba.
At the end of 2016, the story begins in Cuba where members of the diplomatic staff of the United States describe strange ailments. These include nausea, but also hearing, sleep and balance disorders. Between 2016 and 2018, no less than twenty people say they have been affected by what is called "Havana syndrome". Later, Canadian diplomats also reported similar ills in Cuba. However, the syndrome is not exclusively linked to Cuba since other cases were declared in 2018 in countries such as Germany, Australia, China, France, Kazakhstan, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan and Vietnam.
According to a New York Times article in January 2022 referring to a CIA report, Cuba syndrome concerns no less than a thousand cases in six years . You should also know that in 2021, the Havana Syndrome Act was passed and now makes it possible to make care more financially accessible for those affected.
Diagnosing Havana syndrome does not is not easy. Indeed, patients describe a myriad of symptoms such as piercing pain, problems with balance, dizziness and coordination, anxiety, irritability, head pressure or even a kind of cognitive fog. However, these symptoms can be associated with many other diseases such as depression or migraines.
The first hypotheses trying to explain this phenomenon were related to sonic attacks from hostile powers using unknown technology. However, two studies were published in 2018 and 2019 by the same team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (USA). This work carried out on the brains of 21 patients led to the conclusion that the symptoms may come from brain damage , but the cause remains undetermined. It should be noted, however, that these studies have received support, but also many criticisms.
The causes of Havana syndrome therefore seem very difficult to establish. In the absence of a "culprit", detractors have tried to question the various symptoms and especially the assumptions relating to the sonic attacks. Other reports from the US CDC and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have cited radio waves as the most likely cause , but also microwaves.
To this day, this syndrome remains a mystery, since there is no hard evidence. However, let us mention a last track described in the book Havana Syndrome (2020) by neurologist Robert E. Bartholomew. He hypothesized a disease of psychological origin , although the symptoms are very real, as well as the effects on the brain. The author explains in particular that in a context of stress, these people are seized with strange discomfort since they expect possible attacks. This evil is also "transmissible" to other colleagues who would suddenly start to expect similar symptoms as well.
Finally, you should know that diplomats are not the only type of personnel concerned since some cases involve the military, as well as intelligence agents. In addition, a dozen cases are still under investigation as it is not about the fear of an attack, but rather environmental causes . Regarding these cases, Havana syndrome may be more akin to a kind of traveler's syndrome