10th American tourist dies after visiting Dominican Republic

A Louisiana woman died after falling ill shortly after returning from her honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, becoming the 10th American to die this year after vacationing in the country.

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Susan Simoneaux, 59, died Tuesday after spending nearly a month in the intensive care unit of a Louisiana hospital, The Advocate reported.

Simoneaux and her husband, Keith Williams, traveled to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, shortly after getting married in May. Simoneaux seemed fine when she returned home to Luling, neighbors Jim and Jayne Tate told The Advocate.

But a few days later, Simoneaux started having trouble breathing. She checked into a hospital on May 24 and died less than one month later.

An autopsy will be conducted on Simoneaux’s body to determine a cause of death.

Simoneaux is the 10th American to die this year after visiting the Dominican Republic, according to media reports. Dozens more have fallen sick.

At least three other Americans who died in the Dominican Republic were found to have fluid in their lungs, according to previous Cox Media Group reports. Other decedents had heart attacks, or reportedly drank from a minibar before falling ill.

John Trestrail, a forensic and clinical toxicologist who runs the Center for the Study of Criminal Poisoning in Los Lunos, New Mexico, has been following the reports, The Advocate reported. Trestrail originally thought the problem may be carbon monoxide poisoning, or possibly pesticide poisoning. Now, he thinks Legionnaire’s disease may be to blame.

“There’s something going on," he said. "It’s a hell of a coincidence to have that many people deceased.”

More than two million U.S. residents visit the Dominican Republic each year, The Advocate reported. In a statement earlier this month, Dominican Republic tourism officials called the deaths “isolated incidents.”

Carlos Suero, spokesman for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Public Health, told Fox News Wednesday that reports of the rash of deaths in the country are "fake news."

“It’s all a hysteria against the Dominican Republic, to hurt our tourism. This is a very competitive industry and we get millions of tourists. We are a popular destination,” Suero said. “People are taking aim at us.”

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