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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

A group of Jimmy Buffett fans say they spent their time in paradise wasting away with a mysterious illness during a trip to the Dominican Republic.

Their reports of illness come after at least six American tourists have died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic since the beginning of this year.

Dozens of Buffett-loving "Parrothead" fans from the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association claim they all got violently ill while staying at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in April.

"About midweek people began to get sick and were missing events, and we began to wonder what was going on,'' travel agent Dana Flowers told NBC's Molly Hunter on TODAY Monday. "Most people initially thought that it was food poisoning.

"It was basically — it was crippling diarrhea."

Flowers told NBC Oklahoma affiliate KFOR that 47 of the 114 people who went on the trip ended up getting sick. He said he lost 14 pounds from his illness.

Those affected, like Ricky and Jan Carr, said they also experienced fever, chills and dizziness.

"I was either in bed, or I was going to the bathroom,'' Ricky Carr told TODAY. "It was miserable."

Pat Fawcett, another member of the group, told Hunter she tested positive for salmonella.

"So then I came home and I felt like I was in a fever coma for days,'' she said. "I'm just grateful to be alive at this point."

The guests claim that the resort did not take their complaints seriously and shared emails from the hotel with NBC News detailing the resort's response.

"We follow strict procedures in the cleaning of rooms and food products to prevent and avoid any health risks,'' the email read in part.

NBC News reached out to Hotel Riu Palace Macao for comment and did not receive a response.

"It's just real unfortunate because it just puts a black eye on not only that facility but for the Dominican,'' Ricky Carr said.

The U.S. State Department says authorities in the Dominican Republic have asked the FBI for help with toxicology exams following the spate of American tourist deaths.

Javier Garcia, the minister of tourism in the Dominican Republic, said in a press conference that the deaths are "completely isolated" incidents.

Amid the speculation about any possible connections between the illnesses and deaths, one thing is for sure for the Parrotheads from Oklahoma.

"We won't be going back,'' Flowers said.