Cuba Health Mystery: U.S. Diplomats Develop Inner-Ear Damage

December 12, 2018 - 5:38 pm

MIAMI (WCBS 880/AP) — Two years after American diplomats in Havana started showing symptoms of sonic attacks, doctors have released their findings.

According to CBS News correspondent Steve Dorsey, the diplomats showed damage in the inner ear shortly after they complained of weird noises and sensations.

“Doctors here at the University of Miami, just releasing their study making a public showing that their findings of inner ear trauma caused a variety of bizarre symptoms everything from ear pain to disorientation, loss of balance, hearing loss and of course sudden symptoms of brain concussions,” Dorsey explained.

"What caused it, who did it, why it was done — we don't know any of those things," said Dr. Michael Hoffer of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who led the exams.

The U.S. says since late 2016, 26 people associated with the embassy in Havana suffered problems that include dizziness, ear pain and ringing, and cognitive problems such as difficulty thinking — a health mystery that has damaged U.S.-Cuba relations.

“Although some of these victims have been showing some progress, others though they’re still living day-to-day with some debilitating injuries, according to the attorney for a group that I spoke to yesterday, who says that they're concerned about their future employment, going to work and  long term medical care,” Dorsey explained.

It’s unclear if there is any cure for the injuries sustained.

“They say it's unlikely, and it can't be ruled out, that this is part of some kind of exposure to an energy source, as bizarre as that sounds,” Dorsey explained. “That could be me mean anything from acoustic waves, like ultrasonic pressure changes, to electromagnetic pulses, to lasers even or microwave radiation.”

Cuba has adamantly denied any involvement, and even doubts there were attacks.

"There's no evidence that can prove that something occurred in Cuba that could have damaged the health situation of a few U.S. diplomats," Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, Cuba's director-general of U.S. affairs, said Wednesday.

The U.S. has not said what caused the incidents, although initial speculation centered on some type of sonic attack. The AP has reported that an interim FBI report last January found no evidence that sound waves could have caused the damage.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)