For the second time in as many months, Americans living in China have received a warning of potential adverse effects of widely reported but as-yet unexplained phenomena.
According to Fox News, the latest alert came Friday in response to additional cases of illnesses similar to those reported last month near the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou.
Earlier in the week, the U.S. Department of State confirmed the mystery malady affected “a number of individuals” who were flown back home after falling ill.
“Medical professionals will continue to conduct full evaluations to determine the cause of the reported symptoms and whether the findings are consistent with those noted in previously affected government personnel or possibly completely unrelated,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, according to Reuters.
Other U.S. citizens in China were instructed to seek medical attention for any “unusual, unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena, or other health concerns.”
The alert also warned anyone in the vicinity of such a sensation “not to attempt to locate the source” and instead “move to a different location.”
At a press conference on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that country’s government had not launched an investigation into the latest reports because it had not been asked to do so by American officials.
“If the U.S. makes formal contact with us, China will continue necessary investigations in an earnest and responsible manner and maintain close communication and cooperation with the U.S.,” she said.
An American citizen employed at the consulate in Guangzhou sustained brain damage last month, apparently from exposure to the unidentified auditory source.
The phenomenon reportedly began late last year. After the staffer returned to the U.S. for medical care, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing confirmed that the “clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).”
An email alert to Americans living in China at that time provided tips similar to those stressed in Friday’s announcement.
“While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source,” the alert read. “Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present.”
The experience was described as “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure.”
Those reports were themselves reminiscent of unexplained experiences in Cuba last year near the U.S. Embassy in Havana. A number of diplomats reported hearing strange sounds and experiencing health issues in what was initially feared to be a coordinated attack on American citizens.
Fifteen Cuban diplomats were expelled from the U.S. in October as a response to the incident.
While there have been theories about its origin, including the possibility of two listening devices placed in close proximity to each other, the incident has not been officially explained. In the Cuba case, individuals affected reported hearing loss, cognitive impairment and feelings of dizziness and fatigue.
U.S. officials at the Chinese embassy acknowledged apparent similarities to the Cuban report.
In a statement last month, the embassy said that it could not definitively connect the two incidents but would continue investigating.
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