Laura Bush’s illness at 2007 G-8 summit could be first known case of ‘Havana syndrome’: Report

For the past several years, there have been discussions of a vaguely defined ailment that seems to be affecting American officials and allies from other nations.

Dubbed “Havana syndrome,” some suspect the condition is the result of special weapons developed by Russia that use targeted radio bursts or microwave energy. Now, suspicion is growing that former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura may have been struck with “Havana syndrome” while in Germany in 2007 for a G-8 summit, WION reports.

First known instance?

The suspicion stems from a section of Laura Bush’s 2010 memoir Spoken from the Heart. In it, she recalls the symptoms she and her husband — and many of those who accompanied them on the trip — felt while at the summit.

According to a report issued in 2020 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the so-called Havana syndrome generally manifests as pain inside one or both ears or more broadly inside the head, as well as “a sensation of head pressure or vibration, dizziness, followed in some cases by tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties.”

The Washington Examiner reports that other alleged symptoms of the purported syndrome can include hearing loss and an unsteady gait, likely due to dizziness and vertigo, among other things.

The syndrome derived its name from the fact that it was first reported in 2016 by U.S. government personnel stationed in Havana, Cuba. It has since been alleged to have struck Americans and other allies in numerous other places around the globe.

Mysterious illness

As for the former president and first lady, Laura Bush wrote in her memoir that just a couple of days after arriving at a Baltic Sea resort in Germany, “I could barely stand up. My head inexplicably throbbed; I was horribly dizzy and nauseated. I went to bed, pulled up the covers, and for several hours felt so awful that I might die right there in the hotel room.”

She wasn’t alone. “Over the next day,” she wrote, “nearly a dozen members of our delegation were stricken, even George, who started to feel sick during an early morning staff briefing.”

The former first lady noted that most felt only “nausea or dizziness, but one of our military aides had difficulty walking and a White House staffer lost all hearing in one ear.”

Lingering questions

The Secret Service reportedly went on “full alert” in response to members of the U.S. delegation falling ill and suspected a possible poisoning, but no evidence of such was discovered.

Meanwhile, the then-president fought through the feelings of illness and held meetings in the hotel room. Everyone eventually recovered — except for the military aide that never walked the same again and the staffer who never fully recovered his hearing — and the whole thing was chalked up to a possible stomach bug or other virus.

In its report, the Examiner noted that Laura Bush’s description of what occurred at the 2007 G-8 summit is now being looked at again in a new light and as possibly an early and previously unsuspected case of the syndrome. But considering the political ramifications of allegations like these, it’s hard to expect we’ll be hearing much more about this any time soon.

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