Stories

Report: Cuba "sonic weapon" could've been mosquito repellent

Member of the Cuban army fumigates against mosquitoes following Zika outbreak
A member of the Cuban army fumigates against mosquitoes after the Zika virus outbreak in 2016. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. suggested an "acoustic attack" in Cuba made U.S. staff sick in 2016, but a new report from Canada shows the attack may have been a mosquito repellant from Cuba's war on the Zika virus, reports Reuters.

Why this matters: Cuba denied attacking the U.S. embassy staff, but it still led to increased tensions between the 2 countries, per BBC. It prompted the U.S. to reduce its embassy staff to a minimum, writes Reuters.

What the Canadian report says: The researchers examined Canadian embassy staff who experienced similar symptoms to the Americans.

  • The neurotoxins from mosquito fumigation likely caused the headaches, blurred vision, dizziness and tinnitus people were experiencing, according to BBC.
  • The researchers believe the "low, consistent doses" are similar to exposure from commercial pesticides.
  • The diplomats' illnesses corresponded with an increase in fumigation around where they lived, per Reuters.

Yes, but: The researchers said it's difficult to confirm the "definitive cause" at this time, and that their hypothesis offers a "plausible explanation," according to BBC.