Doctors, scientists, intelligence agents and government officials have all been trying to find out what causes “Havana syndrome” a mystery illness that has struck American diplomats and spies.
It often started with a sound, one that people struggled to describe. “Buzzing”, “grinding metal”, “piercing squeals”, was the best they could manage.
Havana syndrome first emerged in Cuba in 2016. The first cases were CIA officers, which meant they were kept secret. But, eventually, word got out and anxiety spread.
Twenty-six personnel and family members would report a wide variety of symptoms. There were whispers that some colleagues thought sufferers were crazy and it was “all in the mind”.
Five years on, reports now number in the hundreds and, the BBC has been told, span every continent, leaving a real impact on the US’s ability to operate overseas.
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