Are you suuuure you’re not just trying to get out of school? Trying to miss work? Every illness is first approached with a healthy dose of suspicion and skepticism. Fever? Chew some ice to cool down. Indigestion? Give it time. Leg broken? Walk on your hands.
Recently, we’ve gotten reports of tourist deaths resulting in visits to the Dominican Republic. Fortunately, this story doesn’t have any casualties but it’s further proof of trouble in paradise. This time, it’s a group of 114 Oklahoma-based Jimmy Buffett fans who have fallen ill.
In an April trip to Punta Cana, 47 of the fans allegedly got violently sick during their trip.
The group — the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association — spent a week at the Dominican Republic’s Hotel Riu Palace Macao. During the trip, the nearly 50 fans began feeling ill; experiencing extreme diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. Dana Flowers, a member, and the group’s travel agent, told PEOPLE that they first thought the illness was food poisoning.
“We went [to the resort] for the week — some longer, some shorter,” he sharedwith the magazine. “We were enjoying the beach and the pool, and about 3 or 4 days into the trip we started hearing about people getting sick.”
Unfortunately, some of the group’s members are still experiencing symptoms two months afterwards.
It wasn’t until after the symptoms worsened that the group suspected it was more than food poisoning that was making them sick. According to Flowers, who also got sick, everyone who became ill swam in a specific pool or drank at the pool’s swim-up bar.
Things became more suspicious when the group sought medical treatment from doctors in the Dominican Republic.
“Most of them got an IV, then were prescribed a medicine for parasites,” Flowers explained. “[The doctors] didn’t do any testing, they just automatically gave them medicine for parasites.”
According to Flowers, two members of the group tested positive for salmonella after returning to the States.
In a statement provided to PEOPLE, Hotel Riu Palace Macao is denying responsibility for the illness.
The statement reads in part:
“We are aware that three guests staying last April at this hotel and coming from the same group … were attended by a possible case of gastroenteritis in our doctor’s office. These events occurred after an external activity of this group outside the hotel, so we can not determine the exact origin of the stomach upset. … No more similar cases were registered by other guests during the indicated date above.”
In response to the illnesses and deaths coming from DR, there are calls for Americans to no longer visit the country.
As far as we know, it’s only American tourists suffering illness and death from visits to DR. The public outcry will no doubt impact American tourism to the country.
According to some, this has been going on much longer than we realized.
This Twitter user shared a response from a personal incident at the Punta Cana Hotel and Casino Hard Rock. She became ill after drinking wine at the hotel’s karaoke bar. As she pointed out, these clusters of incidents are finally calling proper attention to this problem.
Some are even suggesting government interference to prevent this from happening again.
It’s likely that the CDC — which is investigating the deaths out of DR — will enact a travel ban if one comes about. However, maybe it’s best to avoid this part of the Caribbean for now regardless of a ban.
A sixth American tourist was reported Monday to have died from a mysterious illness at a Dominican Republic resort — the latest in a string of disturbingly similar fatalities.
Many of the deaths — and several other severe illnesses — involve healthy, middle-aged adults who had taken a drink from their hotel room minibar before suddenly becoming gravely sick.
That connection seems like more than a coincidence to the victims’ loved ones — and has led to new calls for action and even for the FBI to step in and investigate.
The latest death to be revealed was that of Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, who officials said died on April 14 during a stay at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Wallace’s cause of death has yet to be determined. But in an interview, his niece said her uncle became unwell shortly after drinking a glass of scotch from the minibar in his room before dying in a hospital three days later.
“We have so many questions,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Compounding the mystery is the fact that another American tourist, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland, had died at the same Hard Rock in July 2018 under similarly strange circumstances.
And just one month after Wallace died, three others mysteriously died in their rooms at another Dominican resort in a five-day period this May.
We first reported on the deaths of Miranda Schaup-Werner, Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, who all died within days of each other at the exact same resort.
According to statements from Miranda’s husband, who made it back to the US safely, his wife also started feeling sick after drinking something from the minibar.
The deaths made headlines and first put the spotlight on what now appears to be a yearlong pattern.
The reports of the growing death toll were particularly disturbing to Brooklyn’s Awilda Montes, 43, who said she began vomiting blood after drinking soda from her minibar at the Grand Bahia Principe last October — but managed to survive.
“This could have been me in the headlines,” Montes told The Post. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have left the island straight away.”
Montes suspects someone replaced the soda with chlorine and says she has been left with no taste buds, permanent respiratory problems, and ongoing anxiety.
Aside from the sixth deaths, a long list of people are coming forward with shocking stories of severe unexplainable illness.
Nearly 70 tourists have reported getting violently ill while vacationing in the Dominican Republic since March, according to a commonly used website that tracks food-borne illness outbreaks.
That’s up from just 10 reported illnesses in the country for all of 2018, according to iwaspoisoned.com. In June alone, 52 tourists reported symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
More than 45 of them identified themselves as guests at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana.
Some are starting to believe the incidents are all connected as some plan from a disgruntled employee or even a serial killer.
A team of experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization has since descended on the hotels and is conducting tests at the Bahia Principe hotels where the trio died.
For its part, the Dominican government is urging calm and insisting the island is safe for visitors.
At a press conference, Dominican Republic Tourism Minister Francisco Garcia insisted the island was safe as more tourists reportedly are canceling their vacation plans. Garcia said the country had received more than 30 million visitors in the last five years without any widespread concerns about health issues at its resorts.
But all of this news comes as baseball star David Ortiz was shot in the back while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.
While on vacation in the Dominican Republic, Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was shot in the back.
One suspect is in custody, and investigators are looking for at least one other man in connection with Sunday night’s shooting, police said.
The reason for the shooting wasn’t immediately clear. Ortiz does not know the man being held or why he was shot, and he’s confident it was not a robbery attempt.
All of this has tourists rethinking their travel to the island.
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