U.S. health officials are sounding the alarm bells about Zika virus by appealing to Congress for nearly $2 billion to fight it now that cases of the mosquito-borne virus have shown up in more than 40 states.
Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health made their appeal Monday in Washington, as officials acknowledge the disease linked to birth defects appears worse than previously thought, according to multiple reports.
President Obama is joining with the doctors in asking for the $1.9 billion in emergency funding to educate the public, develop vaccines, fight mosquitoes, and support babies affected by Zika, NBC News says. Officials have already acknowledged that the virus could spread farther north than previously thought.
"Everything we know about this virus seems to be scarier than we initially thought," Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC's principal deputy director told NBC News. The virus, spread through mosquito bites, along with pregnancy, sexual contact and blood transfusions, is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and has been linked to brain and head abnormalities in babies.
As of April 6, 346 cases were reported in the United States, of which 55 were in New York, according to the CDC. The spread in the United States has been through travel, so far, but officials worry with warmer weather, mosquitoes spreading the disease will become more of a threat, NBC News says.