The Jewish Voice has officially declared a travel warning to anyone even considering taking a trip to the Dominican Republic this summer. According to a NY Post report, the embattled Caribbean nation has found itself immersed in a maelstrom of controversy due to the increasing number of those tourists falling seriously ill and those dying from mysterious sources.
Edited by: JV Staff
At least 11 American tourists have died as a result of illnesses they contracted while in the Dominican Republic.
The NYP reported that trips booked to the island dropped by 74.3% for the months of July and August compared to the same period last year, according to a study from ForwardKeys, which analyzes more than 17 million daily bookings.
The number of trips canceled to the country also increased by 51.2% between June 1 and June 19.
According to the Post report, the tourism cancellations hit a high of 70% on June 10, which coincided with the death of a Staten Island mother, Leyla Cox, 53, at a Punta Cana resort.
Though tourism to the Dominican Republic has plummeted, other island getaways have seen a boost in visitors, according to the NYP report.
Jamaica, the Bahamas and Aruba have all seen an increase in trips booked between June 1 and June 19, according to the study.
On Wednesday, June 26, the Post reported that an engaged woman from North Carolina says she got “deathly sick” on a Dominican Republic vacation after drinking from her resort’s poolside bar.
“I FaceTimed my daughter and … I was crying, I said, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to make it back home,’” Teresa McAbee told news station WYFF.
McAbee told the Post that she had checked into a resort on May 27 in Punta Cana amid a health crisis on the Caribbean island. During the trip, McAbee became so sick that she could hardly move, she said.
“We were at the pools, at the swim bar, just having fun,” McAbee told the news station. “Within 30 minutes of getting to the room, I just became deathly sick.”
The NYP reported that for the next two days, McAbee suffered from severe nausea and stomach pains, according to the news station. Her fiance and another member of their group also fell ill, but their symptoms were not as severe as hers, she said.
She returned home to Gaffney, NC, and went to the hospital, where she spent 10 hours in the emergency room, according to WYFF. McAbee never received a diagnosis for the terrifying illnesses.
“I’ve been sick before with the flu and viruses, but never anything like that,” McAbee said.
On June 25, the Post reported that a teenage girl from Argentina has gone into a coma while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, with doctors pointing to a life-threatening diabetic condition — even though her family says she has no history of diabetes.
Candela Saccone, 15, had been scheduled to return home from Punta Cana on June 19 after traveling there earlier in the week, but she reportedly became quite ill that morning, according to the NYP report.
Her mother, Natalia Knetch, told CNN’s Spanish-language news channel that she rushed the teen — who was displaying symptoms of dizziness, dehydration and vomiting — to a local medical center, where doctors diagnosed her with diabetic cetoacidosis.
The NYP reported that the condition is described online by the Mayo Clinic as a “serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.” It normally develops “when your body can’t produce enough insulin,” the clinic says.
According to the NYP report, Candela was reportedly transported from Punta Cana to the General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud in Santo Domingo — with Argentine officials claiming that the initial medical center “did not have sufficient equipment to treat her.” It’s unclear when she went into the coma, only that the teen was still unconscious and in critical condition on Tuesday, yet stable and showing signs of improvement, according to CNN.
Also on June 26, the New York Post reported that a man from Denver was so sick that he was asked to get off of his return flight from the Dominican Republic, and has spent the past three days there in critical condition — vomiting, alone and screaming in pain in a hospital bed, his relatives said.
Khalid Adkins became so ill on the trip with his daughter that he wasn’t allowed to fly home Sunday — and has been forced to stay on the embattled Caribbean island, news station KDVR reported.
“He said, ‘They pulled me off the plane and made me go to the hospital,’” his sister-in-law, Marla Strick, told the news station.
The NYP reported that Strick said Adkins was “dripping sweat and went to the bathroom to throw up and that’s when they kicked him off the plane.”
Adkins was brought to a hospital in Santo Domingo, where doctors told the family he was in critical condition, according to the news station. His relatives said they haven’t received an official diagnosis, but he’s experiencing kidney failure and having trouble breathing.
The Jewish Voice reported that on Monday June 18th, the state department confirmed that Joseph Allen, 55, was found dead in his hotel room at the Terra Linda Resort in Sosua. As reported by the NY Daily News, Allen was the ninth American tourist since 2018 to die in the small Caribbean country.
Allen, a New Jersey man, was vacationing with his friends, confirmed his sister Jamie Reed. Reed said Allen, Allen, who is survived by a 23-year-old son, “complained about being hot at the pool. He said he was going to his room to take a shower. When his friends came back, he said he wasn’t feeling 100% again, and said he was going to lie down for the night. The next morning his friend said he hadn’t heard from Joe before breakfast, so he knocked on his door and there was no response.” Allen’s friends asked the resort to perform a wellness check. But to their dismay, “They found him on the floor,” Reed said. “He had been there for a while. Rigor mortis had set in, and he was cold.”
Reed said that her brother was generally in good health before the trip and didn’t have any known health conditions. Also, he regularly visited the Dominican Republic a few times a year, so the family had not been concerned about the recent wave of deaths “because he does this all the time.” Reed also said that she reached out to Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in hopes that the investigation in the Dominican Republic would not be blocked after her brother’s autopsy. “The families need answers,” she said. “We deserve answers … My brother was my best friend. I spoke to him every day. This is killing me.”
“My brother was a hard worker,” Allen’s brother, Jason Allen, told NBC. “He taught me a lot about sacrifice. … He taught me so many things about being a man. He was selfless.” Jason Allen said his family wants the matter investigated “no matter how much money or how much time it is”.
The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo is facilitating collaboration between US and Dominican investigators. “The safety and security of U.S. citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority,” Ambassador Robin Bernstein said. “These incidents are tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to those personally impacted.”