Written by Staff Writer
09 Feb, 2016 | 6:39 am
The Obama administration has said it will ask the US Congress for $1.8bn (£1.25bn) in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus.
The virus, which is transmitted primarily through mosquitoes, has spread rapidly through the Americas.
It has been linked to a condition called microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The money will go to mosquito control efforts and vaccine research programmes among other initiatives.
The virus is currently being transmitted to new patients in 26 countries in the Americas, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
Additionally, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 50 cases of the virus in the US among people who had travelled to affected regions and returned to the US.
There is a growing fear that as warmer months approach in the northern hemisphere and mosquitoes become active, local transmission could become a problem – especially in the southern US.
Last week, the first case of locally transmitted Zika was reported in Dallas, Texas. Notably, the virus was spread in this case through sexual contact, not a mosquito bite.
The virus has had a considerable impact in Brazil, which has seen a spike in microcephaly cases – totalling around 4,000 in recent months, stirring fears ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The World Health Organisation declared an emergency over the cases last week, prompting research and aid to be fast-tracked.
However, the virus did not keep revellers home from Carnival in Rio de Janeiro over the weekend – some 70,000 fans were said to have been in attendance.
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