Young couple with ties to Hawaii die of mysterious illness in Fiji

Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 8:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The mysterious deaths of a University of Hawaii graduate and her husband in Fiji are now being investigated by public health officials.

Texas residents David and Michelle Paul died in Nadi after being taken to the hospital with an unidentified illness.

The two had planned their trip of a lifetime for weeks, but got violently ill days after arriving at a Sheraton Resort in Fiji.

Michelle Paul texted her dad, Marc Calanog, to say they were vomiting and had diarrhea.

“She told me that her hands are numb,” he said.

The country’s ministry of health says despite getting treatment, their conditions worsened.

Calanog said when the couple dropped off their 2-year-old son, Ayden, before the trip.. both were healthy. He was never able to talk to her daughter before she died May 25 at a local hospital.

David Paul died a few days later as doctors were reportedly planning to fly him to Australia for treatment.

The couple was both in their 30s. David Paul was an Air Force veteran who worked as an engineer for Lockheed Martin. Michelle Paul was a college swimmer who worked in marketing.

According to her LinkedIn page, Paul graduated from UH’s Travel Industry Management graduate program in 2011, and worked at several hotels in the islands.

There were no travel warnings up when the couple visited Fiji, but Michelle Paul’s father fears the Fijian government is withholding information to protect its tourist industry.

“This is the worst thing you could publish about your area, is people died," Calanog said. "I am sure they are trying to see if the issue will go away. I am sure of that.”

The World Health Organization is investigating, and the CDC confirms it’s awaiting specimens for its own analysis. The couples’s bodies will stay in Fiji until the cause of death is confirmed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Fiji said it’s working with the Fijian government.

“We appreciate the efforts made thus far by the Fijian authorities and stand ready to provide further assistance, if requested,” the embassy said.

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