But Obama said that the request was based on public health assessments and documented need to fight the virus before it spreads extensively in the United States. “We didn’t just choose $1.9 billion from the top of our heads,” he said.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 618 cases as of June 1 in the continental U.S. and 1,114 in U.S. territories. One-hundred and ninety-five cases in the continental U.S. have affected pregnant women; 146 in U.S. territories have.
The disease is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, and its most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The illness is usually mild, but a Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, such as microcephaly – an abnormally small head and brain.
So far, those affected in the U.S. have largely been people who have travelled to countries where the disease is prevalent. But there’s worry that summer could be a key time for the disease to infiltrate the United States.
Earlier this week, a 38-year-old Columbus woman tested positive for the virus after visiting the Dominican Republic. The woman is not pregnant, according to public health officials. She represented Franklin County’s first Zika case. So far, there have been more than 600 cases reported in the continental United States, but mosquitoes here have yet to transmit the virus, according to public health officials.