Austria investigates "Havana syndrome" cases among U.S. diplomatic staff

Austria is working with USA authorities to get to the bottom of a reported spate of suspected cases of an ailment known as "Havana syndrome" among U.S. diplomats in Vienna, the Austrian Foreign Ministry reported on Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month his country is conducting a government-wide review into who or what caused what it suspects were "directed" radio frequency attacks on U.S. diplomats that resulted in various neurological ailments and that first emerged in the Cuban capital in 2016, Reuters reports.

The New Yorker magazine said on Friday that since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January, roughly two dozen U.S. intelligence officers, diplomats and other officials in Vienna have reported symptoms similar to those of Havana syndrome, making it the second-biggest hotspot after Havana.

"We take these reports very seriously and in line with our role as host state we are working with the U.S. authorities on jointly getting to the bottom of this," Austria's Foreign Ministry said in a short statement.

"The safety of diplomats posted to Vienna and their families is of the utmost importance to us."

A State Department spokesperson said the United States was "vigorously investigating" the reported cases affecting U.S. officials at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry's website lists 158 U.S. diplomats as currently being posted in Vienna.

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