Almost 70 tourists to Dominican Republic report illnesses since March
Since March, almost 70 people have reported becoming 'violently' ill while on vacation in the Dominican Republic, according to iwaspoisoned.com - a website that tracks food-borne illness outbreaks.
Essentially, this means that the last three months have seen 60 more reported illnesses on the island than in the entire year of 2018.
The dramatic rise, which began in March, has peaked this month - just 11 days in - as a staggering 52 tourists reported having diarrhoea, fever and vomiting in June alone.
Worryingly for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, over 45 of these guests noted that they had been guests at this particular resort.
Other hotels which guests reported having stayed at when they fell ill, include Vista Sol Punta Cana Beach, Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana and Iberostar Bavaro in Punta Cana.
Tragically, six people have died in the last few months while staying at luxury resorts in the Caribbean country.
"People report food-borne illnesses but it’s possible that they experienced some other type of contamination," said Patrick Quade, founder of iwaspoisoned.com, adding that he had consulted with scientists with regards to the findings.
"We started to see unusual activity in April when six people reported being ill on the island, but in June it exploded," Quade added.
One of the experts Quade consulted was Lee-Ann Jaykus, a food microbiologist in the department of food science at North Carolina State University.
Jaykus noted that being exposed to organophosphate, an insecticide chemical, could lead to acute vomiting and diarrhoea - but in more extreme cases it could trigger a 'cardiac crisis'.
Some of the ill guests were reportedly told by US medics that their symptoms were, indeed, likely caused by chemicals found in insecticides.
At least three of the deaths which occurred at the island's resorts were caused by pulmonary edema and respiratory failure.
The FBI is currently investigating the recent outbreaks.