US official urges Puerto Rico to step up fight against Zika

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – The U.S. surgeon general is urging Puerto Rico to step up its public education campaign against Zika and warns that that 25 percent of the island will be infected by the mosquito-borne virus by year’s end.

Dr. Vivek Murthy said during a visit to the U.S. territory Thursday that local officials also need to boost mosquito control efforts and make contraception more accessible and affordable. Zika has been tied to severe birth defects.

Murthy said more funding is needed in part to ease a backlog of cases to test for Zika in Puerto Rico. Local officials say they need a vector control office but lack the money for one.

The island has reported 8,776 cases, including 901 pregnant women. A total of 88 people have been hospitalized.

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