NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says the federal government must act quickly to contain the Zika virus that has infected people in 23 countries in the Americas.

Schumer is pushing for a three-point federal plan to fight the mosquito-borne virus.

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“We are right now ahead of the virus. It’s winter. Can’t come here,” Schumer told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola. “But within four, five months, the mosquitoes will be here.”

The New York Democrat said Sunday that the U.S. Agency for International Development should increase its involvement in Zika-affected countries.

Second, Schumer says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health should begin a crash program to develop a vaccine for Zika.

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Additionally, Schumer says the U.S. should push the World Health Organization to publicly declare a health emergency.

“We’ve stopped yellow fever and malaria from being problems here in the U.S. Those are mosquito borne. So with a little effort, we can do it.”

Schumer says his plan will help to beat back the Zika virus globally.

Zika is has been linked to serious birth defects.

“We never want to get to a place like they are in El Salvador, where the government told women not to become pregnant for two years,” Schumer said.

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