Initial findings on U. S. diplomats’ health problems in Cuba: real but nevertheless a mystery

Two University of Pa researchers who examined diplomatic employees from the U. S. Embassy within Havana confirm they suffered mind injuries, but said the situations weren’ t accompanied by head stress as would have been expected.

There are still no indications associated with what may have caused the diplomats’ mysterious symptoms. The report, released Wednesday in The Journal of United states Medical Association, said the unique conditions of the patients “ raise worry about a new mechanism for achievable acquired brain injury from a good exposure of unknown origin. ”

In an editorial, JAMA said an explanation “ remains elusive” and “ many potential leads to for the symptoms…. remain possibilities. Prior to reaching any definitive conclusions, extra evidence must be obtained and carefully and objectively evaluated. ”

Initial clinical evaluations associated with 80 diplomats and family members on the University of Miami showed that will some of the diplomats had symptoms similar to concussions, but none of them reported getting suffered head trauma. Because of this, twenty one of 24 confirmed cases had been referred to the University of Pa Department of Neurosurgery and Middle for Brain Injury and Restoration.

In contrast to classic concussions, most of the Havana patients “ showed significant impairment that persisted for years with no significant improvement in several cases until rehabilitation was started, ” according to the JAMA paper.

In late 2016, diplomats in the U. S. Embassy first started noticing health symptoms that they connected with mysterious sounds heard in their houses. Later, diplomats reported similar occurrences at two Cuban hotels. A few diplomats described a directional ray of sound. Among the words utilized to describe it were “ humming, grinding metal, piercing squeals plus humming. ”

The primary authors of the paper, Dr . Douglas H. Smith and Dr . Randy Swanson, said that “ it is presently unclear if or how the sound is related to the reported symptoms. ”

“ Affected individuals explained the sounds as directional, extremely loud, and of pure and continual tonality. Sixteen of the patients stated they heard a high-pitched audio, while two indicated they noticed a low-pitched sound. Some didn’ t hear any sounds along with a pressure-like sensation was reported simply by two of the three patients whom didn’ t hear a sound. ”

The sounds seemed to be directional, the JAMA paper stated. Fifty-seven percent of the patients documented that after they changed locations, the particular strange sensations disappeared.

While the U. S. government never blamed Cuba for being behind what calls “ attacks, ” they have held the Cuba government accountable for not protecting American diplomats whilst they were on Cuban soil. Within September, it withdrew about two-thirds of the embassy staff and it has removed 17 diplomats from the Cuban Charge in Washington.

Cuba is also conducting its own analysis , but has complained the U. S. government has discussed so little information about patients that it is having problems reaching any conclusions.

The diplomats all reported struggling some combination of symptoms, including sharpened ear pain, ringing in one hearing, nausea, extreme fatigue, disorientation, head aches, vertigo, and trouble focusing inside hours or days of exposure. The majority of those symptoms quickly resolved.

But other serious troubles, including difficulties with memory and focus, recurrent headache, hearing loss, trouble in walking, and sleep disruptions persisted for a longer period of time.

“ From days in order to weeks after exposure, individuals documented that they experience the onset of extra symptoms. For at least six people, supervisors and colleagues noted “ a clear change in work functionality, ” the paper said.

The JAMA paper provides the first indication of how many individuals suffered from various symptoms.

Three of them showed moderate in order to severe hearing loss. More common had been persistent balance, cognitive, visual plus auditory dysfunction, sleep impairment plus headaches, which variously affected regarding 15 percent to nearly nineteen percent of the patients.

Of the 21 patients evaluated plus treated at the University of Pa, 11 were women and 10 males.