There are 279 pregnant women infected with the Zika virus in the U.S., said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday. President Barack Obama has requested the Congress to approve $1.9 billion for vaccine development and eradicating mosquitoes responsible for the disease.

Newborns of mothers infected with the mosquito-transmitted disease have higher risks of developing microcephaly and brain abnormalities, said the CDC. The latter is carrying out monitoring tests among pregnant women.

Nearly 300 pregnant women diagnosed with Zika virus
Miami, Orlando, Houston, New York City and Philadelphia are among the most vulnerable cities to Zika, according to a map released by NASA in April. Image Credit: CCSI

Miami, Orlando, Houston, New York City and Philadelphia are among the most vulnerable cities to Zika, according to a map released by NASA in April.

Obama: ‘Congress needs to get me a bill that has sufficient funds to do the job’

Three months ago, the Obama’s administration requested at the Congress funds for preventing major Zika outbreaks in the nation. $1.9 billion would be dedicated for the development of a vaccine and helping communities to get rid of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the disease.

“This is not something where you can build a wall to prevent. Congress needs to get me a bill. It needs to get me a bill that has sufficient funds to do the job . They should not be going off on recess before this is done.,” Obama said in in a statement by Politico.

The Senate passed this week $1.1 billion for the fight against Zika. The House of Representatives voted to allocate $622.1 million in funding, saying that money remaining should be used for fighting Ebola. President Obama added that “this is not something where you can build a wall to prevent”.

The CDC will publish weekly numbers of Zika cases in the United States. It is calculated that 20 percent of people with Zika show common symptoms, including fever, muscle pain, rash and red eyes. Obama has incited Americans to ask lawmakers to increase funding.

The president explained that people who are considering to have a baby should consider risks. Zika-virus is the first mosquito-borne infection “to cause congenital anomalies in humans”, said the CDC.

“We’ve got to get moving. This has to get done over the course of the next several weeks in order for us to be able to provide confidence to the American people that we’re handling this piece of business.” said Obama.

The CDC has created two surveillance systems to track new cases of Zika

Health departments alongside the CDC have established two methods to monitor pregnant women who show laboratory evidence of the virus. The U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry includes pregnant women living in all U.S. territories besides Puerto Rico.

The Zika Active Pregnancy Surveillance System exclusively evaluates pregnant women in Puerto Rico. Most women in the registers have reportedly contracted the disease by traveling or by sexual transmission, said the CDC.

Pregnant women with Zika virus continue to increase in the United States
U.S. is currently monitoring 279 pregnant women infected with Zika, according to the CDC. Image Credit: NBC News

U.S. territories can request funds at the CDC

U.S. territories can request funds at the CDC to fight Zika, said the public health institute last week. The Department of Health and Human Services will issue $85 million, for creating preparedness plans.

Stephen C. Redd, director of CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said that $85 million is not enough “to support Zika response”. He explained that without necessary funds “many activities” will have to be delayed.

The CDC will distribute funds during summer, when Zika is expected to hit the country. Presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito would be evident in the southern and eastern U.S by Summer. Weather conditions during that time would also be optimal for populations of mosquitoes in the East Coast, said NASA.

Zika is also part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the nation must “deal with Zika” right now. People in Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Hawaii have already been infected with the virus. Clinton explained that mosquitos will start spreading the disease by summer.

“Congressional Republicans said the Administration should use funds left over from fighting Ebola . Why would we lower our defenses against one public health threat in order to meet another one? That’s senseless and dangerous. Congress needs to provide the funds to fight Zika now.” said Clinton in a Medium post.

Zika virus and the Rio Olympics: a controversial relationship

Health experts have determined that American athletes would be “highly exposed to the Zika virus in Puerto Rico”, according to a CDC letter issued to swimming coaches. As a result, a pre-olympic swimming camp in the country will be relocated in Atlanta, said CNN.

On Monday, Starpharma Holdings Ltd. said it would give Zika-proof condoms to the Australian team. The unique contraceptives are lubricated with a “potent antiviral against Zika”, said the company. The World Health Organization has issued guidelines for people traveling to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Press Release)