The "secret weapon" that causes Havana syndrome is mosquito repellent?

Mosquito repellent may be the cause of a mysterious illness that affects about 40 US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba, according to new Canadian government research.

The incident took place between late 2016 and 2018, prompting the Donald Trump administration to allege that the diplomats were attacked with a secret weapon. The Canadian side refrained from bringing charges, according to the Guardian.

In 2017, the US reduced the number of staff at the embassy in Havana, Cuba, to a minimum. Canada also recently took a similar move with the reason that employees were affected by “Havana syndrome”.

Diplomats experience cognitive symptoms ranging from dizziness and blurred vision to memory loss and difficulty concentrating.

To find out why, scientists from Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Health Service studied Canadian victims and even the brains of a pet dog after death in Canada.

The "secret weapon" that causes Havana syndrome is mosquito repellent?
US Embassy in Havana, Cuba. (Photo: AP).

The results showed that these people lacked cholinesterase , an enzyme necessary for the functioning of the nervous system. Some pesticides work by inhibiting this substance.

During the 2016-2018 period, Cuba also stepped up the spraying of disinfectants to prevent the spread of Zika. That was also the time when diplomats had unusual symptoms.

The study found that the embassy staff’s illness coincided with the time of spraying disinfectant in and around the residence. One of the study’s authors, Professor Alon Friedman, said both Canadian and Cuban public authorities were sprayed with disinfectant.

“We conclude that overexposure to cholinesterase inhibitors is the cause of brain injury,” Professor Friedman said, adding that several other causes cannot be ruled out either.

Mr. Friedman said it is not clear whether Cubans will be affected by the disinfectant, but his team is planning to study the issue further with Cuban scientists.