9 Americans have died under mysterious conditions in the Dominican Republic in the last 12 months, according to CNN. Of those, 3 have occurred in the last month. Now, the FBI is intervening to investigate.
“The safety and security of U.S. citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority. These incidents are tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to those personally impacted," said U.S. ambassador Robin Bernstein in a statement.
Most of the cases reportedly involved a sudden illness despite the good health of the victims. There are other reports of illness, as well. One of the most high-prole cases involves Bachelor alumna Melissa Rycroft Strickland, who has "been put on a liquid diet, and given meds for [her] severe cramping" after a vacation to the Dominican Republic.
It is unclear whether her illness is at all related to the other fatal incidents.
Officials in the Dominican Republic maintain that their country is still safe for travel. National spokesperson Rodríguez-Marchena is calling for reports to "#BeFairWithDR."
"More than 41 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic since 2012. The largest, fastest growing, tourism destination of the insular Caribbean. 14 million came from the United States of America," he wrote on Twitter this week.
The United States Department of State has not issued any alerts for American travellers to the Caribbean country. NBC News also points out that "statistics indicate you're more likely to die as an American in the United States than you are as an American in the Dominican Republic."
But reports of illness and death has some tourists reconsidering their travel plans, according to CBS. CTV also reports that suspicion has spread to Canada, where some prospective travellers have expressed concern.
Global Affairs Canada has also not issued additional travel advisories for Canadians going to the DR, though visitors should "exercise a high degree of caution in the Dominican Republic due to a high crime rate."
The government had earlier issued a general statement about potentially "spiked food and drinks" in the country. "Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery," the page for the DR on the Travel Advice and Advisories page states.
Executive Director of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, Will Macleer, tells MTLBlog that only when the government advises that Canadians to "avoid non-essential travel" or "avoid all travel" are travel cancellations covered by insurance.
These advisories needs to have been issued after the time of booking and be valid for the dates of travel.
For more information on the investigation into the mysterious deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic, refer to coverage by CNN here.