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Zika birth defects in US territories similar to other places

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FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2016 file photo, Puerto Rico resident Michelle Flandez caresses her two-month-old son, Inti Perez, diagnosed with microcephaly linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

NEW YORK (AP) — A new report shows Zika birth defects were about the same in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories as in other places hit by the epidemic.

About 1 in 20 women infected with Zika had babies with birth defects in U.S. territories. That's similar to what was seen in the rest of the United States and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report was released Thursday.

The island territories — particularly Puerto Rico — are the U.S. locations hardest hit by the Zika epidemic. The tropical mosquitoes that spread Zika are more widespread there.

Most people infected with Zika don't get sick. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects.

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