A CIA station chief was recalled after claims he wasn't taking victims of the mysterious 'Havana Syndrome' seriously

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The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seen at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, April 13, 2016. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
The logo of the CIA. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The head of the CIA's station in Vienna, Austria, has been recalled over claims he doubted victims of the mysterious "Havana Syndrome," The Washington Post reported.

The man, who has not been named, was said to be skeptical about the illness and insensitive to those who said they had experienced it, The Post said.

The first case of what is now known as "Havana Syndrome" was reported by US officials stationed in Havana, Cuba, in 2016. Since then, more than 130 cases have emerged.

More cases of the "Havana Syndrome" - which CIA officially calls "anomalous health incidents" - have been reported in Vienna than anywhere else bar Cuba.

Symptoms include headaches, vertigo, hearing loss, and the appearance of buzzing or clicking sounds. Theories on the cause of the illness range from microwaves and ultrasound to parasites.

Dozens of US diplomats, officials, and their families have been affected in the Austrian capital. Some children of US employees have also been affected there, The Post reported.

In August, several offices at the US mission in Vienna shut down as a result of the illness, The Post said.

The removal of the Vienna station chief shows the CIA is taking "Havana Syndrome" cases seriously.

Earlier this month, the Department of Defense sent a memo to 2.9 million military service members and civilians asking them to report any symptoms that line up with the illness.

On a trip to India this month, a person traveling with CIA Director Bill Burns experienced symptoms of the illness, CNN reported.

Employees of the CIA told the network that the episode was perceived internally as a direct threat to Burns, and that Burns was furious when he found out.

The Vienna recall follows the departure this month of Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, the top US official overseeing the State Department's response to the illness, after three months on the job.

The department said Spratlen left because she had "reached the threshold of hours of labor" as a retiree. But NBC News reported that she left following criticism of her decision not to say if she believed an FBI study that said the "Havana Syndrome" could be a mental affectation.

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