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What is ‘Havana Syndrome’, what does the latest report say about the mysterious illness?

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.



Nearly four years ago a mysterious neurological illness, referred to as Havana syndrome”, started to afflict American diplomats and intelligence operatives in Cuba, China, and other countries.

  • Now, a report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) has found “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.


What is the ‘Havana syndrome’?

In late 2016, US diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.

  • The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.


What causes the ‘Havana syndrome’?

Directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered.

  • The immediate symptoms that patients reported including sensations of pain and buzzing sound apparently emanated from a particular direction, or occurred in a specific spot in a room.



Insta Curious:

Have you heard about Fast radio bursts detected in the Milky Way for the first time? Reference



Prelims Link:

  1. What are Microwave weapons?
  2. What is Havana Syndrome? Why is it named so?
  3. Reasons behind?
  4. Overview of electromagnetic spectrum.

Mains Link:

What is ‘Havana Syndrome’? Discuss why it was in news recently.

Sources: the Hindu.