Explained: CIA officer on India trip reports Havana Syndrome; what is known about its symptoms and causes so far

What is the News?

A US intelligence officer on an Indian trip last month has reported symptoms of Havana Syndrome. This is the first instance of the phenomenon being reported in India, at least on record, and could have diplomatic implications.

What is Havana Syndrome?
Havana syndrome
Source: TOI

Havana Syndrome refers to a set of mental health symptoms that are said to be experienced by US intelligence and embassy officials in various countries. 

It typically involves symptoms such as hearing certain sounds without any outside noise being present, nausea, vertigo and headaches, memory loss and issues with balance.

What is the origin of Havana Syndrome?

Havana Syndrome traces its roots to Cuba. In 2016, about a year after the US opened its embassy in Havana, some intelligence officials and members of the staff at the embassy began experiencing sudden bursts of pressure in their brain followed by persistent headaches, feeling of disorientation and insomnia.

What is the cause of Havana Syndrome?

Experts have suggested that the victims may have been subjected to high-powered microwaves that either damaged or interfered with the nervous system. 

Greater exposure to high-powered microwaves is said not only to interfere with the body’s sense of balance but also impact memory and cause permanent brain damage.

The US experts believe that these microwaves are sent through a special gadget called a “microwave weapon”.

What are Microwave weapons?

“Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim for highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.

A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems. China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.

The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System”.

Source: This post is based on the following article

  • “Explained: CIA officer on India trip reports Havana Syndrome; what is known about its symptoms and causes so far’”published in Indian Express on 22nd September 2021.
  • Directed energy weapons shoot painful but non-lethal beams – are similar weapons behind the Havana syndrome?” published in Down To Earth on 22nd September 2021.

  • “US intel officer on trip to India suffers Havana syndrome”  published in TOI on 22nd September 2021.

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