19 U.S. Travelers To Cuba Reported Symptoms Similar To Those Of Diplomats

U.S. Embassy staff had experienced hearing loss, dizziness, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping.
The U.S. Embassy in Havana.
The U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The U.S. State Department says 19 U.S. travelers to Cuba have reported health issues and symptoms similar to those U.S. diplomats said they experienced in Havana in 2016.

In September, the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Cuba issued travel warnings stating that “numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees have been targeted in specific attacks” and were experiencing symptoms including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. Officials said they had been “unable to identify the source of the attacks” and advised Americans to avoid visiting Cuba.

Some have speculated that the symptoms were the result of acoustic attacks, or the use of sound-based weapons. The State Department asked Cuban diplomats to leave the U.S. Embassy, and withdrew nonessential American staff in Cuba.

On Monday, a State Department spokesperson told the Miami Herald that “Since September 29, the Department of State has been contacted by 19 U.S. citizens who reported experiencing symptoms similar to those listed in the Travel Warning after visiting Cuba.” 

“We continue to urge U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to Cuba.”

The latest State Department advisory on Cuba, issued Jan. 10, places the country at a Level 3 advisory, urging Americans to reconsider travel.

“On September 29, 2017, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members to protect the safety of our personnel. Due to the drawdown in staff, the U.S. Embassy in Havana has limited ability to assist U.S. citizens,” the advisory warned.

The advisory said travelers to Cuba should avoid Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri, where diplomats were staying when they reported symptoms, and to report similar symptoms to a medical professional.