by Erin Jones | CBS 11

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Nine American tourists have died unexpectedly in the Dominican Republic in the last year.

The latest happening last week. As the number of deaths continues to climb, some travelers are growing wary.

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The State Department is telling tourists to “exercise increased caution” when traveling to the Dominican Republic.

Nakita Miles says there was not a care in the world during her family vacation to Punta Cana earlier this month.

That is until they learned two days in that 53-year-old Leyla Cox, from Staten Island, was found dead at Excellence Hotel and Resort just down the road from where they were staying.

“While we were there on the trip so many people were reaching out to me on Facebook saying be careful,” said Miles.

“I was just in shock, everyone needs to be careful, but I was definitely concerned when I was there and just really more curious on what was going on.”

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Tourists go for a walk at Bavaro beach, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on January 16, 2012.  (Photo credit: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

The FBI is investigating the deaths of nine American tourists who passed away under mysterious circumstances in the last year.

“The news started pouring in, something happened. Okay, one case – it’s okay, related to alcohol, that’s fine. Second related to alcohol, that’s fine. Then it was so many and you have to
go with the news because I’m taking my kids. I don’t want to jeopardize their lives,” said Ranjeeta Rath, who cancelled a family trip to the Dominican Republic due to the recent violence. “I don’t know where it’s coming from but it’s coming from somewhere and what is the motive and intention behind?”

The Dominican Republic’s tourism minister maintains the country is still safe for tourists – saying the deaths are all due to natural causes. Rath says she’s not taking the risk.

“Why would I choose to go to a dangerous place right now,” she asked rhetorically. “I definitely understand the concern so I would say if you go just make sure you’re very careful in what you consume because that’s what we hear is going on”

Rath says she was able to get a refund on her hotel stay, but not her airfare.

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There’s no requirement for these companies to give refunds, so if you’re hoping to make cancellations your best bet is to contact the companies you booked with, explain your situation and see what they can do.