A bride has told how she and her new husband both fell violently ill after their wedding day at a Dominican Republic resort where two other Americans died in mysterious circumstances, forcing them to cut short their honeymoon.
Claudia Massaranduba and fiance Kevin Gentile, who live in the Boston area, were staying at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana when the began to suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
The newlyweds, believed to have tied the knot earlier this month, told The New York Post that several members of their family also fell ill during the celebrations.
Two other Americans, David Harrison and Robert Bell Wallace, have died at the resort in the last year.
A total of seven US holidaymakers have died in mysterious circumstances while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
Claudia said Kevin was ill on morning of their big day: 'It was scary. He had a fever, chills and we were more concerned about getting fluids into him than the wedding.'
Claudia Massaranduba and fiance Kevin Gentile were staying at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana when the began to suffer from vomiting and diarrhea
And it comes just a day after it was revealed at least seven Americans have died on the island in mysterious circumstances in last year.
Claudia claims her bridesmaid and her 10-year-old nephew also fell ill and were charged hundreds of dollars to visit the resort's clinic before being referred to a local hospital. She says her guests were among dozens of other guests at the hotel who were getting sick that same week.
She added: 'The doctor was very concerned about how she was going to be paid. I asked her if she was going to do anything for my husband besides look at him and tell him to go to the hospital.
'People at the hotel were not surprised at all by our experience, which I thought was strange. That's why when I went to the doctor it seemed like a business.'
Claudia herself says she then fell ill and she later discovered that other members of her family, including elderly relatives, were also sick but had not wanted to spoil the couple's wedding.
The couple were then forced to cut short their honeymoon.
'Our plan was to spend our honeymoon at the resort and instead we left a day early,' Claudia said.
She added: 'The hardest part was that a big part of our wedding was having the family together and that got taken away from us. Instead I was stuck in our room with my husband getting sick.'
Claudia herself says she then fell ill and she later discovered that other members of her family, including elderly relatives, were also sick but had not wanted to spoil the couple's wedding. The couple were then forced to cut short their honeymoon
Claudia, pictured with Kevin, claims her bridesmaid and her nephew also fell ill and were charged hundreds of dollars to visit the resort's clinic before being referred to a local hospital
Two other Americans, David Harrison and Robert Bell Wallace, have died at the at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, pictured, in the last year
Leyla Cox, 53, of New Brighton became the seventh American in last year to die in mysterious circumstances in Dominican Republic after she was found dead in her hotel room on Monday. Her son William has claimed no toxicology report has been carried out on her because all the country's machines are broken.
Cox said that he was told by the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo that his mother died of a heart attack, but in light of recent news reports about Americans dying during their vacations, he is not ready to accept the official explanation.
'I have a right to be suspicious,' he said. In a phone interview with the New York Post he explained: 'The Dominican Republic has not released an autopsy report.
'They will not do a toxicology report on her because they say the toxicology machines in the Dominican Republic are broken.
I've been trying to get her body flown back to the US, so we can do our own autopsy and our own toxicology report,' he said.
'But unfortunately that will cost a fortune. And I do not have anywhere close to that sort of money.'
Toxicology reports - drug tests done on people who have died - cost thousands of dollars.
'They've put me against a wall where I don't have a choice,' William said.
'I don't know how she died. I don't know where she died — I know it was in a hotel. I don't know if she was in a room or at the bar.'
Leyla Cox, 53, of New Brighton, flew to the Dominican Republic on June 5. She was expected to spend a week on the island before flying back to New York on Wednesday, according to her son, William Cox
Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland, checked into the Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana on May 25. They were found dead in their rooms five days now and their families say they now plan to carry out their own autopsies on their bodies
Leyla flew to the Caribbean island on June 5 and was expected to spend a week on the island before flying back to New York on Wednesday, William told the Staten Island Advance.
The family says it is waiting for her body to be transferred from the hospital to Blandino Funeral Home in Santo Domingo.
'Once they have her, they're going to call me, and they're going to make arrangements with me,' said William.
Police believe the seven American tourists who have mysteriously died in the Dominican Republic over the past year may have been poisoned by bootleg liquor.
The Caribbean island has said the deaths are isolated incidents, but U.S. law enforcement sources told the New York Post that they are looking into who supplied the alcohol the victims drank in the hours before their deaths.
They also want to test the drinks to see if they contain dangerous chemicals.
One source told the Post that the FBI will take blood samples from the dead back to its Virginia research center for testing.
Most of the victims were apparently healthy adults, several of whom are known to have drank from their hotel room minibars before becoming extremely ill.
Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensic science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, told the New York post that the symptoms of many of the dead and sick, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are consistent with poisoning from methanol or pesticides.
Methanol is toxic form of alcohol used as antifreeze. It is a light, colorless, flammable liquid with a odor similar to that of ethanol (drinking alcohol).
'It looks to me, from what I've heard and read, is that something was added to the drinks or bottles in those little refrigerators,' he said.
Another factor that will likely complicate any attempt to find out what happened is the fact that his mother wished to be cremated - which would preclude any toxicology report.
Leyla was found dead in her hotel room on Monday June 10, just one day after her birthday.
Cox said he and his family had urged his mother not to go to the island given the recent events.
'My family wanted her to not go on this vacation,' he said.
'I truly believe if my mother was not in the Dominican Republic, she would have been alive right now.
'With everything going on in the news right now, we think she's a casualty of what's been happening.'
Cox said he spoke to his mother days before her departure.
'I called her on a Sunday and wished her a happy birthday,' he said. 'I told her I loved her.'
It is unclear if Leyla Cox stayed at one of the resorts where other Americans have fallen ill.
Earlier on Thursday, an Atlanta couple said they fell violently and mysteriously ill while on a vacation to Dominican Republic.
Vanessa McNelley-Neal and her husband James say they were the victims of a 'very intense' sickness while on a break on the island.
Four American tourists have died at the Bahia Principe hotels