US issues health warning after employee in China suffers 'abnormal sensations of sound and pressure'

  • The U.S. official, who was assigned to the southern city of Guangzhou, reported "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure," the State Department said Wednesday.
  • The health alert has inevitably raised comparisons to the flurry of unexplained incidents in Cuba that prompted the withdrawal of most U.S. personnel from the capital city of Havana in 2016.

The U.S. State Department issued a health alert after a government employee stationed in China was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury, evoking memories of the series of so-called "sonic attacks" on American diplomats in Cuba.

The U.S. official, who was assigned to the southern city of Guangzhou, reported "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure," the State Department said in an alert Wednesday.

The notification from the department said Washington was not currently aware of any similar situations inside or outside the diplomatic community.

The State Department, which did not link the case in China to any other incident, said anyone in China who experienced "acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises" should move away from the area.

Unexplained incidents in Cuba

The health alert has inevitably raised comparisons to the flurry of unexplained incidents in Cuba that prompted the withdrawal of most U.S. personnel from the capital city of Havana in 2016.

At that time, the U.S. called back embassy staff stationed in Cuba after they complained of symptoms like hearing loss, dizziness, visual difficulties, headaches and fatigue.

The cause of those reported cases still remains a mystery.

- Additional reporting by Eunice Yoon.