Study: Unknown Illness Likely Caused by Microwave Radiation

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. vertigo / ˈvɜr tɪˌgoʊ / (n) – the sensation or feeling of being dizzy

    Kenny always feels sick when looking down from a high place because of his vertigo.

  2. literature / ˈlɪt ər ə tʃər / (n) – writings about a particular subject

    One area of the library is filled with literature on birds.

  3. plausible / ˈplɔ zə bəl / (adj) – reasonable or possible

    Authorities could find no plausible reason for his disappearance.

  4. inflict / ɪnˈflɪkt / (v) – to cause someone to experience something negative

    The insect can inflict a painful sting.

  5. underway / ˈʌn dərˌweɪ / (adv) – currently happening

    Work is underway to repair the bridge.


Read the text below.

A recent study found that an illness that affected American government employees in Havana, Cuba, was likely due to microwave radiation.

In 2016, some American personnel working for the US embassy in Havana, Cuba, started experiencing symptoms like hearing strange sounds, ear pain, vision problems, and vertigo. Some of the employees recovered from the mysterious symptoms, but for others, the symptoms only worsened.

The unusual set of symptoms was named Havana Syndrome.

To carry out the study, a team of 19 medical experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine examined the symptoms of around 40 government employees. They found that the symptoms were not linked to any existing disorders or illnesses found in medical literature. However, the team explored four factors that might have caused the syndrome: chemical exposure, infections, psychological issues, and microwave radiation.

According to the experts, out of the four, microwave radiation seemed the most plausible cause of the syndrome. They also indicated in their study that the microwave radiation might have been intentionally inflicted upon the affected employees.

The researchers emphasized that they were only speculating the cause of the illness and that investigations were still underway.

US lawmakers have proposed a bill to provide long-term emergency medical services and other benefits for American employees affected by Havana Syndrome.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Apart from providing long-term emergency medical services, do you think the US government should do more for the American employees affected by Havana Syndrome? Why or why not?
• Do you think the American employees with Havana Syndrome were intentionally attacked by someone? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Would you still consider working in another country where foreign nationals were reported to have caught a mysterious illness? Why or why not?
• Should countries always provide assistance to their citizens working abroad? Why or why not?