The medical expert’s comments come as the death toll for the American tourists who have mysteriously died at Dominican Republic resorts and hotels has risen to eight in the last 12 months, according to reports.
In an interview with The New York Times, Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said reported symptoms such as pulmonary edema, bleeding, and vomiting blood could point to poisoning, even if accidental.
He added that it is still difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused the deaths of the tourists, and the exact reason will only be known when toxicology reports are available.
“It’s rare for travelers to die of unknown causes like this, and to have a high number of them in a relatively short period of time is alarming, shocking, sad,” Dr. Inglesby told the publication.
“It’s something that investigators should be able to get to the bottom of.”
Safely assume the sudden death of 3 people at the same hotel including a couple was poisoning (likely contaminant in the doctored booze)? Await independent tox. Hope your travel plans don’t include the @BahiaPrincipe Hotel in La Romana, #DominicanRepublichttps://t.co/TPVOgZBV6R
— Dr. Ali Khan (@UNMC_DrKhan) June 4, 2019
An FBI investigation has been launched into the string of mysterious deaths at the popular holiday destination, which is visited by more than two million Americans annually.
Due to the similarities among the deaths, the families of the Americans have expressed concerns and have suggested the deaths may be connected, raising suspicions about the luxury resorts they stayed in at the time of their death, reported The Times.
In June 2018, Yvette Monique Sport, 51, died in her room at a Bahia Principe resort in Punta Cana after she had a drink from the hotel’s minibar.
“She was 51 years of age, relatively healthy, no reason for her to go on vacation and die so suddenly,” Nieves told Fox29.
Her cause of death was due to a “heart attack,” said her sister, Felecia Nieves, who has raised suspicions as to whether this was true.
“We were promised within three months that we would receive a toxicology report. To this day, which is almost a year now we’ve got nothing,” Nieves said to Fox 5.
The following month, 45-year-old David Harrison died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana—of a heart attack, reported The Washington Post.
“I no longer feel like my husband died of natural causes,” said his widow, Dawn McCoy, according to The Post.
California man Robert Wallace died in April after falling ill at the same Hard Rock Hotel, Fox News reported.
California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family sayshttps://t.co/Tp1jeXgzrs
— FOX 29 (@FOX29philly) June 10, 2019
Before he died, the 67-year-old drank from the hotel’s minibar and his niece, Chloe Arnold, told the station he had been in relatively good health before doing so.
“He was fine,” Chloe Arnold said of her uncle, Fox News reported. “He and his wife arrived there at around midnight on April 10. On April 11 he had scotch from the minibar. He started feeling very sick, he had blood in his urine and stool right afterward.”
The troubling pattern of deaths made headlines after Maryland couple Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, was found dead at the Bahia Principe La Romana on May 30.
Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, died in the Dominican Republic just five days before Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 50, were found dead in their hotel on the same resort. https://t.co/UlLwfBAZrt
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) June 5, 2019
They had checked in on the same day that 41-year-old Pennsylvania woman Miranda Schaup-Werner collapsed and died after drinking from the minibar at the same resort on May 25, the New York Post reported.
Families said the three died of pulmonary edema and respiratory failure.
“We are awaiting the results, especially in regards to the tragic death of the couple from Maryland,” a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism told Fox News.
“We want these tests and investigation to be carried out carefully and professionally.”
— judy morris (@judymorris3) June 12, 2019
Bahia Principe dismissed the reports of the deaths as inaccurate in a statement on June 7, adding that the hotel was committed to “collaborating completely with the authorities and hope for a prompt resolution of their inquiries and actions,” The Times reported.
Meanwhile, Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos announced in a statement on June 11, that it was “deeply saddened by these two unfortunate incidents, and we extend our sincerest sympathy to the families of Mr. Harrison and Mr. Wallace.”
The group said it is waiting for official reports about the deaths, according to The New York Times.
Dr. Inglesby added that it is “unconscionable and inexplicable,” that toxicology reports have not yet been completed or released.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.