For several months, doctors, the FBI, and U.S. intelligence agencies have been investigating what happened to U.S. officials and their family members stationed in Havana who fell ill and experienced hearing, vision and memory loss, or other related problems. Cuba became a less likely suspect in the incident after diplomats in Uzbekistan experienced similar symptoms. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson now says he does not know who is responsible, but he remains convinced that the injuries are the result of coordinated attacks. However, new evidence appears to rule out any sort of sonic weapon as the source of the attacks.
Doctors treating the victims have discovered brain abnormalities in an undisclosed number of the embassy workers. Medical testing has revealed perceptible changes to their brains, specifically in their white matter tracts — pathways that allow the different parts of the brain to communication with each other. This discovery has led investigators to stop referring to the incidents as “sonic attacks.” Per ABC News:
But acoustic waves have never been shown to alter the brain’s white matter tracts, said Elisa Konofagou, a biomedical engineering professor at Columbia University who is not involved in the government’s investigation.
“I would be very surprised,” Konofagou said, adding that ultrasound in the brain is used frequently in modern medicine. “We never see white matter tract problems.”
The physicians investigating have been treating the symptoms as an undiscovered illness, leading to extensive testing to determine which treatment strategies are best. At this point, most of the patients have recovered and are back at work, but nearly a quarter of those affected experienced their symptoms for a long period of time or are still experiencing them.
While Cuba has long maintained it is not involved whatever activity is making the diplomats sick, but even after similar incidents on the other side of the globe, the U.S. still questions what they knew. “What we’ve said to the Cubans is: Small island. You’ve got a sophisticated intelligence apparatus. You probably know who’s doing it. You can stop it,” Tillerson said. “It’s as simple as that.”
(Via ABC News)