Havana Syndrome

Jacob Agashe

In late 2016, two United States Embassy officials were struck with a series of perplexing symptoms. Although these officials were new to the embassy in Havana, they experienced a variety of symptoms, the most striking being high-pitched noises that seemed to disappear whenever they left the room that they were in. They also started to experience a diverse load of symptoms, from hearing loss to paralysis. Once the first two cases occurred and were reported to the embassy officials, more and more cases were reported from diplomats in Havana. By the time August 2017 rolled around, there were at least 16 symptomatic cases, with some whose symptoms couldn’t be treated by the doctors that they were getting deported to. Although many people were skeptical of the idea that this could be a weapon, this theory is in fact backed up by a study from the University of Pennsylvania which observed that “these individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks.”

As more time has gone by, there have been alternative theories on what is happening to these individuals. Many experts believe that this could simply be a disorder of the brain’s software, or essentially a placebo. One common misconception that people have about Havana Syndrome is the location. Diplomats have gotten Havana Syndrome in places such as China and the United States, not just Havana. Havana is simply the origin of the disorder and the first time that the alarm was sounded about this new syndrome.

Havana Syndrome is a problem for many reasons. Although most of the individuals affected were CIA agents, there were also other government officials and even family members who were affected by the mysterious illness. Additionally, there have been reports of this illness on American soil, which means that this syndrome could possibly affect anybody.



New York Times