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27 August 1998/Assoc. Press

Two hurricanes that battered Mexico's Pacific coast last year seem to have left a lingering curse: a dramatic rise in malaria along the Oaxaca shoreline.

Federal health statistics show 10,755 cases of malaria in the southern state so far this year, up from just 586 cases in the same period last year. Mexico recorded only 2,457 cases nationwide last year.

Federal officials reported 250 new cases of malaria in Oaxaca for the second week of August, just a little less than the weekly average so far this year.

Most of the cases occurred in people living on the slopes of the coastal mountains, said state health official Daniel Vargas Rincon.

State officials imposed emergency measures in a roughly 30-mile wide strip along 100 miles of the Oaxaca coastline hit hard by the hurricanes.

The towns of Huatulco, Puerto Angel and Puerto Escondido - meccas for tens of thousands of American tourists each year - are within that zone, but officials say the relatively clean, often paved communities have suffered relatively little from the problem.

see also Mosquitos.

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