Washington, Feb 8 (EFE).- President Barack Obama will ask the U.S. Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus on both the national and international levels, the White House announced Monday.

In a communique, the White House emphasized the need for the country, and particularly the Southern states, to be “fully prepared” for the arrival of the spring and summer months and to work hard to “mitigate and quickly address local transmission” of the virus.

The U.S. government has been “taking every appropriate measure to protect the American people,” the White House said, detailing its formal request for the emergency funds, which will be sent to Congress “shortly.”

“There is much that we do not yet know about Zika and its relationship to the poor health outcomes that are being reported in Zika-affected areas. We must work aggressively to investigate these outbreaks, and mitigate, to the best extent possible, the spread of the virus,” said the White House.

To date, 50 Zika cases have been registered in the United States, the patients having brought the infection from outside the country, although one Dallas resident has been infected via local sexual contact, according to figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new guidelines issued by the CDC last week recommend that couples where the woman is pregnant who have traveled to areas where the virus is active use condoms or abstain from sexual relations, given that Zika has been linked to birth defects.

Thirty countries and territories comprise part of the travel alert list put out by the CDC, including almost all of Latin America.

The CDC also recommends that pregnant women who have traveled to any of the Zika-affected areas undergo tests for the virus between two and 12 weeks after their return to the United States, even if they are showing no symptoms of the disease. EFE


(c) 2016 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.


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