A CIA officer suffered symptoms consistent with Havana syndrome during a trip to India with the agency’s director, sources disclosed on Monday, Sept. 20.
CNN reported that the unidentified victim accompanied CIA Director William Burns on a journey to the Asian country this month.
Havana syndrome is a mysterious neurological illness that U.S. officials first reported in Cuba in 2016. Symptoms include nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss.
The suspected cause is thought to be an ultrasound weapon, but nothing has been proven so far. Microwaves are suspected to be the culprit.
The affected official traveling with Burns was immediately treated when they returned to the U.S. It had not been revealed how severe the illness may have been.
“We don’t comment on specific incidents or officers. We have protocols in place for when individuals report possible anomalous health incidents that include receiving appropriate medical treatment,” a CIA spokesperson said.
Sources told CNN that the incident infuriated Burns and showed that any U.S. delegate is vulnerable to potential attack if an ultrasound weapon caused the syndrome.
The event also sparks concerns about how an offender may learn of the visit and plan an attack on the official.
It marks the second time in less than a month of a Havana syndrome report among U.S. elite crew visiting foreign countries.
On Aug. 24, the flight that transported Vice President Kamala Harris from Singapore to Vietnam was delayed for three hours after reports of illness emerged. The Vice President was unaffected, and the trip was resumed.
At the time, Harris’ office said the postponement was due to “a report of a recent possibly anomalous health incident in Hanoi.” It was later confirmed that they were referring to Havana syndrome.
In recent days, government agencies have increased their warnings about the occurrences, particularly for officials traveling abroad, including the Pentagon, which last week warned its entire staff of potential brain injuries caused by heat, pressure, and noise, according to The New York Times.
Mr. Burns had pledged during his confirmation hearing that he would make it a high priority to study the strange health episodes linked to Havana syndrome. He had also formed a targeted cell to look into the cases and improve medical care for people who have been affected.
Since 2016, more than 130 U.S. officials have reported suffering from Havana syndrome.
The New York Times noted that CIA officers had been involved in over half of the recorded cases; however, State Department ambassadors and military personnel have also been impacted.