47 Oklahomans visiting the Dominican Republic in April as part of a Jimmy Buffett fan club group trip reportedly became violently ill, suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, and other pretty serious ailments.
According to People, the fans were staying at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana when the illnesses struck. “We were enjoying the beach and the pool, and about 3 or 4 days into the trip we started hearing about people getting sick,” Dana Flowers, a member of the group, told the magazine. “They were getting diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches.”
It’s unclear what made the group sick, though Flowers has his theories:
Flowers says the group initially chalked the mystery ailment up to food poisoning, but their symptoms began to worsen. Flowers, who was among those affected by the illness, claims he lost 14 pounds over the course of 19 days. “It was some of the worst sick I’ve ever been, and I don’t normally ever get sick,” he says.
Flowers claims that everyone who grew ill in his group either swam in one specific pool or drank at the swim-up bar. When members of the group sought treatment from the on-site doctor, Flowers claims, ”Most of them got an IV, then were prescribed a medicine for parasites. [They] didn’t do any testing, they just automatically gave them medicine for parasites.”
A handful of American tourist deaths (seven this year, and 9 in the last 12 months) have been reported in the Dominican Republic of late, some in strange (and similar) circumstances. Several died after reportedly drinking from their hotel minibars; several were found dead of respiratory failure with fluid in their lungs, and several died of heart attacks.
Both the FBI and the CDC are investigating the aforementioned suspicious deaths, though the U.S. State Department says they haven’t actually seen a reported uptick in tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic, despite the media reports.
Per NBC News:
The State Department said an average of 2.7 million Americans visit the Dominican Republic every year. In the decade through 2018, 194 Americans died or were killed there, an average of slightly more than 19 a year, according to State Department statistics, which works out to a death rate of 7.18 per 1,000 people.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Hotel Riu Palace Macao told People they “can not determine the exact origin of the stomach upset,” and that “[n]o more similar cases were registered by other guests during the indicated date above.”