What The Heck Is Going On In The DR That Made 47 Jimmy Buffett Fans Violently Sick On A Recent Trip
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 shared with 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.