A recording of a strange sound said to be heard by people with Havana syndrome has been released by a US official, allowing the public to make conclusions for themselves about what it could be.
Havana syndrome is a collective term for a mysterious set of symptoms experienced by military and diplomatic service personnel in Cuba in 2016, and has since been felt by US personnel around the world.
According to the unnamed former US official, the sound is a by-product of the source of the illness and will not cause harm by listening to it.
He said that the noise became painfully loud and “filled the room”, indicating it could have some connection to the onset of symptoms.
Havana syndrome was first reported in Havana, Cuba, in 2016. Both US and Canadian embassy staff fell ill with pain and ringing in their ears, with some even reporting cognitive dysfunction in severe cases. Since then, cases of the strange condition have been reported by more US personnel across the world, and all depict similar symptoms.
Cases of the syndrome vary, but report some common features: almost all have a ringing in the ears, dizziness, and headaches. Some cases have even led to brain damage, though it is unclear if this is directly caused by Havana syndrome.
It’s unclear how many cases have been reported, but a recent assessment by seven different US government agencies reviewed around 1,000 cases of so-called “anomalous health incidents” across 90 different countries. They concluded that although they don’t know the actual cause, they believe it to be “very unlikely” to be caused by a US adversary.
Current theories vary about the syndrome’s origin. A 2022 US report suggested that the majority of cases could be explained by natural causes or stress, though some are unexplained and could be the result of a “small device”. Some suggest it could be the result of mass hysteria and that the noise is merely the sounds of insects that often echo through warmer climates, and the sound is certainly similar.
Other, more outlandish theories blame an unknown, entirely new “microwave” weapon, or some sort of high-frequency weapon. A review in 2020 pointed the blame towards an attack from a foreign power, citing Russian research into energy weapons. This seems extremely unlikely, however, given that the cases range from so many countries and such a weapon has never been successfully demonstrated by any known nation, friend or foe.
Regardless, people who have fallen ill from the syndrome have since become entitled to state compensation to support their recovery, thanks to a bill signed in 2021 by President Biden.
Have a listen for yourself – what do you think it is? Futuristic hi-tech weapon, background noise of insects, or something else entirely?