Pesticides likely cause of Havana Syndrome of diplomats

ANKARA 

Overexposure to pesticides is a likely cause for neurological symptoms in Cuba-based diplomats, said the findings of a new interdisciplinary study on the “Havana Syndrome”.

The study — led by Dr. Alon Friedman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Dalhousie University Brain Repair Center in Nova Scotia, Canada — showed a correlation between overexposure to pesticides and neurological symptoms among Canadian diplomats residing in Havana, Cuba in 2016.

The study was first published on Sunday.

Officials started having the symptoms beginning in August 2017, when American and Canadian diplomatic personnel in Cuba reported that they suffer from headaches and loss of balance, as well as difficulties in sleeping, concentration, and memory.

“Our findings confirm brain injury, specify the regions involved, and raise the hypothesis of overexposure to cholinesterase inhibitors as a plausible etiology,” wrote the doctors after they have conducted a study examining 26 Canadian diplomats and their family members, the majority of whom displayed symptoms similar to their American counterparts while residing in Havana.

Cholinesterase is one of the essential enzymes required for the proper functioning of the nervous systems of humans, invertebrates and insects.

“Pinpointing the exact location of where the brain was injured was an important factor that helped lead us to perform specific biochemical and toxicological blood tests and reach the conclusion that the most likely cause of the injury was repeated exposure to neurotoxins,” told Friedman to medical website News.Medical.net on Friday.

“The study validates the need for us to continue to learn more about the use of pesticides and other toxins,” he said.

“It is a global health issue that reminds us how much we still have to learn about the impact that toxins have on our health,” Friedman added.
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