US President Wants $1.8b to Fight Zika Virus

US President Wants $1.8b to Fight Zika VirusUS President Wants $1.8b to Fight Zika Virus

The Obama administration has said it will ask the US Congress for $1.8bn (£1.25bn) in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus. The virus, which is transmitted primarily through mosquitoes, has spread rapidly through the Americas.

It has been linked to a condition called microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains, BBC reported.

The money will go to mosquito control efforts and vaccine research programs among other initiatives.

The White House says that come of the money will go towards “enhancing the ability of Zika-affected countries to better combat mosquitoes and control transmission” of the virus.

The virus is currently being transmitted to new patients in 26 countries in the Americas, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Additionally, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 50 cases of the virus in the US among people who had travelled to affected regions and returned to the US.

There is a growing fear that as warmer months approach in the northern hemisphere and mosquitoes become active, local transmission could become a problem - especially in the southern US.

Last week, the first case of locally transmitted Zika was reported in Dallas, Texas. Notably, the virus was spread in this case through sexual contact, not a mosquito bite.

The virus has had a considerable impact in Brazil, which has seen a spike in microcephaly cases - totaling around 4,000 in recent months, stirring fears ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.