It’s been nearly a month, and officials have yet to determine the cause of death for an American couple who died in Fiji after suffering an unexplained illness.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said preliminary tests don’t indicate an infectious disease is to blame for the deaths of Michelle and David Paul, reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on June 22.
The CDC initiated an investigation into the Texas couple’s death at the start of the month after the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services issued a request.
Fort Worth couple vacationing in Fiji didn’t die of infectious disease, early tests indicate https://t.co/7R1tvKbFTv
The CDC has “completed extensive initial testing on samples received from Fiji” and “current results do not suggest that an infectious disease caused these deaths,” spokesman Marcus Hubbard told the newspaper. “CDC and its partners are proceeding with additional non-infectious laboratory testing,” he added.
“Investigations by the Ministry and other partners, which included post mortem examination, laboratory investigations to exclude a wide range of viral and bacterial causes, toxicology and microscopic examination of tissues, have identified no infectious causative agent,” The Ministry of Health and Medical Services also said in a statement, CBS DFW reported.
Michelle, 35, died on May 25 after she sent messages to her family about vomiting and diarrhea. David, 38, died two days later.
CDC probe of Fort Worth couple’s deaths in Fiji has preliminary findings https://t.co/VDP2UgLMK4
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram (@startelegram) June 21, 2019
“In the end, I want the root cause of death,” Michelle’s father, Mark Calanog, told the paper. “If it’s not an infectious disease, what is it?”
The CDC added that the bodies of the couple cannot be sent back to the United States until a cause of death is determined, the Star-Telegram reported.
Earlier this month, health officials in Fiji ruled out the flu, reported Hawaii News Now.
The health ministry on June 8 also “stressed that results of the investigation may take weeks or possibly longer,” reported the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.
Message to Family
In the text messages, Michelle wrote, “We have been throwing up for 8 hours,” according to reports. “Dave has diarrhea. My hands are numb. We will text when we can.”
She messaged them again after returning to their hotel.
Michelle Paul texted her mother than she and her husband were going to the doctor after being violently ill for 8 hours while on a dream vacation in Fiji. They did not recover from their mystery ailment, and now the CDC and the WHO are looking for answers. https://t.co/g7wRCA7dfZ pic.twitter.com/ZgTOisArvS
— WebMD (@WebMD) June 7, 2019
“We just got back from the clinic. They gave us fluids and anti-nausea drip,” Michelle wrote. “They gave us electrolyte packets and anti-nausea pills. We still don’t feel 100%. Going to rest in our room.”
Relatives also said that the wait for answers about their loved ones’ deaths has been painful.
“I’m stuck in a nightmare,” Rebecca Ward, David Paul’s sister, told “Good Morning America” in an interview. “You think you’re going to have an answer today and you get a call that they don’t know.”
Tracey Calanog, Michelle’s sister-in-law, told WFAA that the two were “very physically fit,” saying that Michelle was a former student-athlete and David was a U.S. Air Force veteran. “They were planning an amazing vacation,” she added, “they always wanted to explore.”
Marc Calanog told People magazine that the two left behind several children, including a young son.
“I don’t even know how to say it to Ayden because [he] is 2 years old,” he told the news outlet. “Once I have it all more clear, I guess I’m going to start talking to a priest and ask him for help to see how I can tell this to Ayden.”