WASHINGTON -- A new National Academy of Sciences committee report has found that "directed" microwave radiation is the likely cause of illnesses among American diplomats in Cuba and China.
The study, commissioned by the U.S. Department of State and released Saturday, is the latest attempt to find a cause for the mysterious illnesses that started to emerge in late 2016 among U.S. personnel in Havana.
The study found that "directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible" explanation for symptoms that included intense head pressure, dizziness and cognitive difficulties. It found this explanation was more likely than other previously considered causes such as tropical disease or psychological issues. The study did not name a source for the energy and did not say it came as the result of an attack, though it did note that the former Soviet Union previously researched this type of injury.
In its report, the 19-member committee noted that it faced significant challenges in trying to solve the medical mystery. Among them, not everyone reported the same symptoms and the National Academy of Sciences research did not have access to all the previous studies on the illnesses, some of which are classified.
"The committee found these cases quite concerning, in part because of the plausible role of directed, pulsed radio frequency energy as a mechanism but also because of the significant suffering and debility that has occurred in some of these individuals," said committee chairman David Relman, a professor of medicine at Stanford University. "We as a nation need to address these specific cases as well as the possibility of future cases with a concerted, coordinated and comprehensive approach."
The health effects were experienced by about two dozen Americans affiliated with the U.S. Embassy in Cuba as well as Canadian diplomats and personnel at the U.S. consulate in Guanghzhou, China, in 2017.
Some of the Americans have been critical of the U.S. government's response, and at least one has filed suit against the State Department.