US Diplomat Got Dogs for Protection. Then They Vomited Blood

Mother of sickened diplomat in China speaks out
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2018 6:11 AM CST
Updated Nov 24, 2018 9:00 AM CST
In this Nov. 9, 2017, file photo, an American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

(Newser) – Of all the US diplomats in Cuba and China who have mysteriously fallen ill since late 2016, only one has been publicly named: Catherine Werner. She's also the only person who served in China and has been "medically confirmed" to have experienced what 26 Americans did in Havana, reports NBC News, which has an exclusive interview with her mother, Laura Hughes. Hughes says she's speaking out over her fears that "our diplomats around the world or here at home" are not safe. That was true, she says, for her daughter, who was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury—as was Hughes herself. She says the issues began roughly a year ago, when her daughter's poor health—nausea, headaches, balance issues—led Hughes to visit her in Guangzhou.

Werner had been hearing noises and feeling pressure, and suspected her air conditioner was on the fritz. Hughes purchased new air filters, to no avail. Fearful that the apartment may have been tampered with after noticing furniture seemed to have shifted, they got two dogs to dissuade intruders. Things only got creepier: Hughes said the animals shivered and vomited blood, and that they once found them locked in a room they hadn't left them in. Hughes says she heard alternately high-pitched and pulsing sounds and fell ill herself. "Your head is splitting. You're dizzy. It's a horrible feeling. It's indescribable." She left after three months; her daughter decided to stay but was subsequently evaluated and flown back to the US. Both women are in "intensive rehabilitation" to address balance, vision, and cognitive issues, she says. (Here's one wild theory on what happened, and here's a simpler one.)

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