Couple who died of mysterious illness in Fiji sent string of text messages to parents as condition worsened

Abby Young-Powell

A woman who died mysteriously in Fiji along with her partner sent a series of text messages to her mother in which she revealed her hands had gone “numb” and that she was going to the doctor.

Michelle and David Paul died two days apart after arriving for a "dream" holiday to the South Pacific nation on 22 May and becoming ill soon after.

Fiji's health ministry has been working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation to investigate what could have caused the seemingly healthy couple to become gravely ill.

Text messages sent to Ms Paul's mother in the United States and obtained by ABC News document how the pair’s condition worsened.

"We are both going to doctor now," the 35-year-old texted her parents, who live in Nevada, soon after she and her husband arrived in Fiji.

We have been throwing up for eight hours. Dave has diarrhoea. My hands are numb. We will text when we can,” she wrote.

Later that day, she texted her mother to update her on their condition.

"We just got back from the clinic," she said. "They gave us fluids and anti-nausea drip. They gave us electrolyte packets and anti-nausea pills. We still don't feel 100 per cent. Going to rest in our room," she said.

Michelle’s mother, Juliet Calanog, responded: "Take care ... Drink a lot of fluid, bottled water. You need to rest."

Ms Paul died on 25 May and her 37-year-old husband passed away two days later. Fiji's health ministry said in a statement that an investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.

"Influenza has been ruled out, and at this stage, we do not believe there is a risk to the public," the statement said.