A mysterious neurological disease has afflicted no less than 200 American officials in diplomatic positions around the world.
Officials serving at the U.S. Embassy in Paris are among the suspects suffering from the mysterious neurological disease known as Havana Syndrome, said people familiar with the incidents (Photo: U.S. Embassy in Paris)
WASHINGTON – Officials serving at U.S. diplomatic missions in Geneva and Paris are suspected of suffering from a mysterious neurological disease known as Havana Syndrome and at least one is returning to the U.S. for treatment, said people familiar with the incidents.
Suspicion of attacks on U.S. officials serving in both European cities was reported last summer to officials at these positions and eventually to the State Department in Washington. The diplomats have joined no less than 200 others who have fallen ill in the past with suspicion of Havana syndrome while stationed in China, South America and elsewhere in Europe.
At least three Americans serving at the consulate in Geneva, a city that hosts nearly a dozen large multilateral organizations, are thought to be suffering from the syndrome, which the Biden administration has called an “exceptional health event.” At least one of these officials is being evacuated from Switzerland to the U.S. for treatment. The embassy management later notified staff of incidents during a consulate staff meeting.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment, and generally does not respond to reported incidents, citing “privacy and medical confidentiality” as the cause.
In November, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the administration was “seriously focusing” on delving into the depths of these incidents, which he said have caused profound physical and physiological damage since first reported by diplomats serving at the U.S. Embassy in Havana more than five years ago.
Symptoms include headache, dizziness, cognitive difficulties, tinnitus, vertigo and vision, hearing and balance problems. Many officials suffered from symptoms years after reporting an incident, while some were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.
The cases in Geneva and Paris are the latest in Europe, where cases have also been reported in Austria, Serbia and Germany. The Wall Street Journal also reported nearly half a dozen recent cases at the huge U.S. embassy complex in Bogota, Colombia. There were also suspicious cases at the American consulates in China.
Officials warn that it is difficult to determine an accurate count of victims because each case must be medically verified and the symptoms of some people ultimately have different explanations.
In the years since the first symptoms appeared, the U.S. government has not yet determined who is behind the attacks and what mechanism or mechanisms are being used.