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Punta Cana: Food Poisoning & Diarrhea Strike Dominican Republic

I Survived #PoopaCana in the DR

My pregnant wife, son and I took a vacation to Dreams Resort in Punta Cana back in late June, early July. On our second night in the Dominican Republic my wife and I came down with food poisoning. We became very sick, got chills, stomach ache and didn’t want to get out of bed or eat for the first few days. We had terrible travelers’ diarrhea for two weeks, until finally antibiotics prescribed by my wife’s OBGYN knocked it out.

#poopacana

Punta Cana was beautiful, but the food poisoning and the diarrhea were terrible. I lost 8 pounds and my wife lost 5 – we could barely eat or drink anything the whole week we were in the Dominican Republic.

About half the people we met at the Dreams Punta Cana Resort were sick with diarrhea while we were there, including a wedding party of 40 guests, more than half of whom had food poisoning.

I met an 80 year old lady traveling alone from Quebec who had food poisoning so bad she took a taxi to a clinic two hours from the resort along the bumpy Dominican Republic roads to get treated. She was worried the whole time that she was going to suffer an attack of diarrhea in the back of the cab and when she got to the clinic there was blood on the sheets and so she refused to be treated there anyway.

In August a friend had his wedding at the Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana. They said they had a great time, even though the groom and half the wedding party got travellers diarrhea, presumably from food poisoning.

So from this informal sample of about 100 guests at two different Punta Cana resorts between June and August about 50% of them got sick.

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Fruit Stand at Dreams Punta Cana

S**t happens.

It’s a shame to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation and then have to sit it out by the pool.

After I blogged about my son’s stool sample in my fridge (i guess you could call that a shot across the bow) Dreams Resort reached out to me via Twitter and asked for my contact details. I’m always excited when it looks like a company is going to give me great customer service.

It didn’t happen though. They reached out but they never called me.

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A quick search turns up some travel lawyers trying to drum up business with blog posts like this specifically targeting people who got food poisoning at the Dreams Resort in Punta Cana while we were there.

Suing Dreams isn’t something I’d ever do, but maybe it’s an option for you.

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Boats at Fishing Dock in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Surely people know if it’s that rampant

You would think wouldn’t you. But it looks like someone has done a pretty good PR job with the fallout.

Here are some of the top ranking pages for the search terms “Punta Cana Food Poisoning” and “Punta Cana Diarrhea”.

Yahoo Answers Canada

A user called ? asked:

so im going to punta cana soon staying at bavaro princess. and while looking at some of the review people say they got food poisoning or stomach acts and diaireah!!

And the “Best Answer”, nominated by just 2 other users and promoted to right below the question, comes from a user called Yomary.

This is in 95% of the cases coming from the fact that tourist drink to much and to cold drinks at the numerous bars of the resorts. Because it is free so they drink way to much and don´t give their system the time to adapt to this new environment! A human being needs about 3 to 4 days to adapt, so wait before doing the same as many tourist do and then tell at home they had food poisoning…..

According to Yomary there is no food poisoning in Punta Cana. Tell that to my underwear. I only had 2 drinks before I got ill. My pregnant wife had none. The 80 year old woman wasn’t drinking much and nor was my 2 year old son.

So who is this Yomary? Well he certainly knows a lot about the Dominican Republic and Punta Cana specifically, if you check out his Yahoo answers profile (which has now been deleted or suspended)

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He has answered 409 questions about the Dominican Republic. So many you’d think he should get a job with the Punta Cana tourism board, if he doesn’t already have one.

Trip Adviser

A user called jewlsinri from Canada says:

I am really freaked out about a lot of complaints of food poisoning at almost every resort in Punta Cana.

And another user LeaPerLaVita, purportedly from New York, blames it on the sun, the drink, the “total disruption of your body both mentally & physically” from packing and flying. Basically on anything but food poisoning. Food poisoning in Punta Cana – you must be imagining it.

A look at LeaPerLaVita’s profile shows 170 posts exclusively about Punta Cana since 2009. For someone who lives in New York they don’t travel very widely.

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There’s no smoke without fire

So there are a lot of people hearing a lot of scary things about food poisoning in Punta Cana. Maybe you’re one of them and you’re wondering whether you should go there.

Well based on my experience you’ve got a 50% shot at a great illness free vacation.

*Update

I thought I should share with you some traffic statistics I’m seeing for this post.  In January this post was read nearly 500 times.

That’s a lot of traffic off-season.  I imagine it will grow even more once the season starts, I’d predict I’ll see 10,000 total visits to this post in 2014.

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About 80% of that traffic is coming from search engines, and here are some of the kinds of search phrases I’m seeing that drive this traffic.

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Clearly a lot of other people are getting sick in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic too, or have heard the rumors and are looking for more information.

Share your Punta Cana food poisoning story

If you got sick while you were in Punta Cana I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Or share your story socially with the #poopacana hashtag. Let me know and I’ll stick it at the end of this post, like this:

poopacana-joe-richmond-@jrichmond96poopacana-alejandro-@justALH

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