Dozens of Jimmy Buffett Fans Reportedly Get Sick in Dominican Republic

By Inside Edition Staff
Copyright (c) 2018 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Dozens of Jimmy Buffett fans took a trip to Dominican Republic and fell seriously ill during what should have been a vacation in paradise, according to reports.

Just days after arriving at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana in April, travelers with the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association got sick.

Dana Flowers is a member of the fan club and a travel agent. He said of the 114 people on the trip, 47 developed symptoms and many of them couldn't even leave their rooms.

"Lost 14 pounds during that time and was really sick," Flowers told KFOR. "I can't even explain how sick I was."

The sickened travelers aren't sure what caused their illness, but Flowers said they all "drank at the swim-up pool bar or swam at the swim-up pool."

Riu Hotels and Resorts responded to the claims of illness, writing in a statement to InsideEdition.com, "We are aware that three guests staying last April at this hotel and coming from the same group (of 120 people) 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."

The company added that "no more similar cases were registered by other guests during the indicated date above."

The fans were there the same month that 67-year-old Robert Bell Wallace was staying at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana. Wallace fell sick and died on April 14.

"We had no idea when we were there that all this was going on," Flowers said.

Several Americans have died in Dominican Republic under strange circumstances within the last year. The country's government insists the resorts are safe and has hired a crisis management team to help fix the nation's tarnished image.

So how can you protect yourself if you do travel to the Dominican Republic? Experts recommend staying in American-owned hotels. Also, always check the seals on bottles of water and alcohol, and never leave drinks unattended. 

Despite the incidents, CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg said people shouldn't cancel their vacation plans. 

"People need to embrace common sense here and not fear," he said.

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