ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Some diplomats in Cuba have returned to North America suffering brain damage after a series of attacks, possibly from a sonic device directed at their homes. One expert says it could have been sort of like a very damaging and powerful dog whistle, only aimed at humans.

“If they were able to utilize something at a short range and particularly noxious, it could do a lot of damage to people,” says Dr. Josh Sappington, a SLU Care otologist, specializing in the ear and hearing loss at SSM Health SLU Hospital.

“If they had repeated exposure to it, or sustained exposure to it, that’s not something that the brain and the ears will like for an extended period of time and they could suffer neurological damage,” he says.

In some cases, oral steroids can help with the hearing damage, but Sappington says the more serious brain and nerve damage cases are more concerning with much longer therapy needed.

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