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Local woman sickened by parasite in Dominican Republic

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Posted at 9:01 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 21:07:30-04

GRAND LEDGE, Mich.  — Four Americans have died this month after making trips to the Dominican Republic making a total of nine this year.

One local woman isn't surprised after she got sick on her vacation.

Chase Tracy went to the Dominican Republic last year for a college spring break. She said she had a great time, but that quickly changed when she got home.

"Almost exactly a month later, I like woke up violently nauseous and vomiting," she said.

At first, Tracy thought it was some sort of stomach bug.

"And then it didn't stop. Like I slept in my bathroom 17 days... just in the month of April. It was miserable."

She was told she had ulcers, Hepatitis A, and even anxiety, but none of the medication seemed to help. After over a year, and countless doctors later, she finally had an answer.

"It was a parasite that caused a super rare infection in my intestine that created leaky gut is what they call it and it took this long to figure it out, every test every doctor I saw," she explained.

The doctor said the parasite was from her vacation to the Dominican. Because of her long sickness, Tracy had to quit her job and miss school and even holidays. She says knowing what she does now, she would have stayed in the US.

"Everyone for their senior spring break would go, it was like, it must be a nice place, and it must be a fun place, but I would have never, I would have never went," she said.

Today Tracy is on multiple medications, trying to heal her stomach and intestines, which could take months. News 10 asked her what kind of advice she would have for anyone thinking about making the trip.

"I mean, I would say don't go, know I'm not the only one that has gotten ill. Don't stop pushing for answers from doctors."

Doctors told Tracy if the parasite hadn't been treated it could have caused life-long problems like Crohn's disease She says she is happy to be alive and on the road to recovery.

Earlier this month we talked to police about how to prepare yourself and stay safe when taking trips abroad. Police encourage you to be aware of your surroundings, avoid places that seem unsafe, and to always do your research

"It's just like anything else, you wouldn't buy a car without doing some research so just make sure you do some research on your destination," Trooper Marco Jones of Michigan State Police said.

Travel agents add that travel insurance is a good option for big trips.

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