Beijing, China.- A U.S. government employee in southern China reported abnormal sensations of sound and pressure, the State Department said Wednesday, recalling similar experiences among American diplomats in Cuba who later fell ill.
In an emailed notice to American citizens in China, the department said it wasn’t currently known what caused the symptoms in the city of Guangzhou, where an American consulate is located.
“A U.S. government employee in China recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure,” the notice said. “The U.S. government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event.”
The department said it wasn’t aware of any similar situations in China, either within the diplomatic community or among others. It didn’t further identify the person with the symptoms or say when they had been detected.
China’s foreign ministry and National Health Commission did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the report.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking in Washington to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the medical indications of the incident in Guangzhou “are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications of the Americans working in Havana”.
He said a medical team was being sent to Guangzhou and “we are working to figure out what took place both in Havana and Guangzhou.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. Embassy learned on Friday that the Guangzhou employee had shown clinical findings during medical testing similar to patients with mild traumatic brain injury, known commonly as a concussion. That is the same clinical finding that doctors treating the Cuba patients at the University of Philadelphia have found in those patients.