US President Barack Obama urged Congress Friday to advance $1.9 billion in emergency funds to fight the Zika virus, saying Republicans should set aside politics to tackle the fast-moving disease.
“This is not the time to play politics,” Obama said in remarks delivered in the White House Oval Office following a meeting with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Anthony Fauci and other officials.
“Congress should not leave, should not adjourn, until they get this done,” he added ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend.
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, which is actively spreading in about 50 countries and territories, including Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
Experts have warned the continental United States will likely see mosquito-borne transmission this summer.
“The good news is we feel fairly confident that we can develop an effective vaccine for Zika,” Obama added.
The Zika virus can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
On Tuesday, Florida reported its first case of a baby born with microcephaly after the child’s mother, a Haitian citizen, was infected with the Zika virus while pregnant.
Zika is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes but can also be spread by sexual contact.
Four infants have been born with birth defects related to the Zika virus in the United States, including in Hawaii and New Jersey, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have also been four US pregnancy losses involving Zika, and one in the US territory of Puerto Rico, the agency said, without offering details on whether the cases involved miscarriage or abortion.
Obama urges US Congress to release Zika funds
Reviewed by Link Naija