News & Opinion | June 18, 2019 1:39 pm

More Than 40 Jimmy Buffett Fans Fell Violently Ill on a Group Trip to the Dominican Republic

The trip came to a disastrous end for 47 Oklahoma-based Parrotheads

Buffett himself was not victim to the illness that befell his Oklahoma fans
Buffett himself was not victim to the illness that befell his Oklahoma fans
Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Dozens of Jimmy Buffett fans faced gastrointestinal distress in paradise after illness broke out on an ill-fated fan club trip to the Dominican Republic.

The fans, who’d come from Oklahoma, were staying at the Dominican Republic’s Hotel Riu Palace Macao on a group trip to Punta Cana in April when 47 of the 114 travelers grew ill, People reported.

“We were enjoying the beach and the pool, and about 3 or 4 days into the trip we started hearing about people getting sick,” said Dana Flowers, a member of the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association. “They were getting diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches,” he told People.

According to Flowers, many of the sick travelers fell so ill they were unable to leave their rooms, and some are reportedly still not feeling “normal” two months later. Among those affected, Flowers found himself wasting away in Margaritaville, reportedly losing 14 pounds over the course of his 19-day illness.

While Flowers said he and his fellow ill Parrotheads originally assumed food poisoning was to blame, they eventually sought treatment from an on-site doctor, who reportedly provided IVs and medicine for parasites, though a cause was never identified. “[They] didn’t do any testing, they just automatically gave them medicine for parasites,” Flowers told People.

The strange illness that swept through the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association is the latest in a series of mysterious illnesses and deaths that have befallen travelers visiting Dominican Republic hotels and resorts. The U.S. State Department has confirmed that at least six American tourists have died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic in the past year.

While many of the deaths have occurred under similarly bizarre circumstances, the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic has maintained that the deaths are still statistically insignificant, calling each a “unique event.”

“They come to visit the beautiful beaches and enjoy the great culture. Unfortunately sometimes those things happen to people,” he said.

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