While the Zika virus is ravaging parts of South America, it has not yet spread as widely into the US. However, President Barack Obama is taking a preventive measure against it by asking Congress for over $1.8 billion to combat the infection - ABC News reports.
Zika virus is transmitted through bites of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and these are commonly seen in Florida, the Gulf Coast, and US states bordering Mexico.
The need to combat the infection becomes all the more crucial when latest studies show the virus is linked to neurological problems and birth defects in unborn babies, among which is microcephaly – abnormally small heads in babies.
President Obama said pregnant women are more at risk of the infection, and evidences from researches in Brazil show that the disease is on the rise and spreading to neighboring countries fast.
"What we now know is that there appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women and women who are thinking about having a baby," Obama said on Monday.
The US president cautioned that there shouldn’t be any panic over the infection spreading to the United States, but the requested fund would be helpful in preventing a possible spread even as spring and summer approach.
Many people who get infected with Zika virus may not experience any real symptoms apart from mild concerns, but infected pregnant women may not be so lucky because the virus attacks their unborn babies with serious birth defects and other neurological problems.
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The Pan American Health Organization reveals that 26 countries and regions in South America, Central America, the Pacific Islands, and the Carribean already report having Zika virus, but none has been transmitted yet in the US – but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disclosed 50 cases confirmed by lab tests from travelers who returned from these affected countries to the US between December last year to February 5, 2016.