Fort Worth

CDC: Test results expected soon in investigation of Texas couple’s deaths in Fiji

The results of Centers for Disease Control tests in the so-far-unexplained deaths of a Fort Worth couple on vacation in Fiji likely will be ready this week, according to spokesman Bert Kelly.

David and Michelle Paul died around Memorial Day on the South Pacific island after coming down with an unknown illness that rapidly worsened. Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services, which is investigating the deaths, ruled out the flu as a possible cause of death on Wednesday as the CDC began its own investigation at the Ministry’s request.

The CDC has been set to receive specimens shipped from Fiji, though Kelly said he wasn’t sure if those specimens would be something like bodily fluids or ocean water samples. He also wasn’t sure if the agency has received those specimens yet.

But, whenever the specimens are in, he said, the CDC will begin testing.

“At the moment,” Kelly said, “we’re just assisting in the testing of whatever the samples are.”

Though test results should be available sometime this week, the investigation could go on for longer, he said.

Those who knew the couple remain eager for answers more than week after David, 38, and Michelle, 35, died. Their bodies have remained overseas.

Fiji’s Ministry, according to a Wednesday statement, has been monitoring a small number of health workers and staff who had close contact with the couple. That is proceeding only as a precautionary measure and no one has been found to be sick, according to the statement.

The sickness that killed David and Michelle had caused them to come down with symptoms such as vomiting for hours, according to Marc Calanog, Michelle’s father, who had been receiving text messages from her in Fiji.

He said on Wednesday he heard from the U.S. Embassy in Fiji and discovered the CDC needed to do more work before a root cause of death could be determined. The bodies won’t be released until that time, he said.

The family would want the bodies to be preserved if it turns out the cause of death wasn’t an infectious disease, he said. But he said they’re prepared for the possibility that the bodies could be cremated.

If it’s determined there was an infectious disease, the only other option would be transportation inside hermetically sealed bags, Calanog said.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram