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American Sent Home From China After 'Abnormal Sensations'

23 May 2018

The U.S. Embassy in China issued a health alert on Wednesday after a U.S. government employee experienced an "abnormal" sound and suffered a mild brain injury - in an incident reminiscent of a mysterious illness that hit diplomats in Cuba.

The embassy advised Americans experiencing "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises" not to attempt to locate the source of the sound but to move away from the location, and seek medical help.

The employee at the U.S. Consulate in the southeastern Chinese city of Guangzhou has been left with mild traumatic brain injury, U.S. officials tell CBS News.

Though the State Department has not linked this case to any other incident, news of unusual symptoms hitting US government employees overseas will no doubt draw comparison to a rash of incidents with USA and Canadian diplomats working in Cuba.

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"The medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba", U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at congressional hearing in Washington on Wednesday.

The State Department was taking the incident very seriously and working to determine the cause and impact, the embassy said.

"The U.S. government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event", the message says. The U.S. also expelled 15 Cuban officials from its embassy in Washington.

The employee was sent to the United States for evaluation and treatment. Both the State Department and Chinese government are investigating the case, reports CNN; the employee began reporting symptoms late past year, and no other American personnel are known to have experienced anything similar.

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"The clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI)", the embassy said.

Responding to these claims, the Cuban Foreign Ministry denied any Cuban involvement in the alleged attacks.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the brain injury sustained by an American official in China was "very similar" to those that affected U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba.

"We can not at this time connect it with what happened in Havana, but we are investigating all possibilities", a United States embassy official told Reuters.

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Last October, the State Department ordered non-essential embassy personnel and the families of all staff to leave Havana, arguing the US could not protect them from unexplained illnesses that have harmed at least 24 Americans.

American Sent Home From China After 'Abnormal Sensations'