Why Are Americans Dying in the Dominican Republic?

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Americans are cancelling plans to visit the Dominican Republic as more mysterious deaths continue to emerge. 

Seven different Americans have recently died in the country under strange circumstances. The latest death to come to light? The brother of "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran. 

John Corcoran's death at a resort in the Dominican Republic in April was ruled a heart attack, but there was no autopsy to confirm that. On Thursday, Barbara said in part on Instagram, "My brother had an existing heart condition and we believe he died of natural causes, but you’re still never ready for the death of a loved one."

She added: "I’m overwhelmed with sadness for the lost lives in the DR and my thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones. Thank you for all your thoughts and good wishes. I appreciate your love and kindness."

"The coincidences certainly raise questions," said CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg, who's known as "The Travel Detective." He added that the key to the mysterious deaths may lie in the cleaning products used to spruce up the hotel rooms. 

The wrong cleaning product combined with "a pre-existing condition could result in a violent medical episode in which acute respiratory failure occurs," said Greenberg. "And this may have been misdiagnosed as a heart attack."

And the country's crisis is only getting worse, given the recent shooting of baseball legend David Ortiz, which is putting a spotlight on the at-times violent crime there. 

There's also a spate of food poisonings. The website IWasPoisoned.com features dozens of complaints from travelers who said they became violently ill at Dominican Republic resorts. 

But the country's government insists the resorts are safe and has hired a crisis management team to help fix the nation's tarnished image.

So how can you protect yourself if you do travel to the Dominican Republic? Experts recommend staying in American-owned hotels. Also, always check the seals on bottles of water and alcohol, and never leave drinks unattended. 

Despite the incidents, Greenberg said people shouldn't cancel their vacation plans. 

"People need to embrace common sense here and not fear," he said.

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