NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer wants the White House to appoint a “zika czar” to coordinate the U.S. response to the mosquito-borne virus that is being blamed for serious birth defects.
Schumer said Friday that the Zika czar would coordinate between federal agencies and foreign governments to prevent the spread of the virus. The New York Democrat says the position should be filled before the start of mosquito season in the U.S.READ MORE: Tri-State Area Police Departments Travel To Harlem In Tribute To Fallen NYPD Officer Jason Rivera
“We need to build a firewall, a firewall against zika,” Schumer said, adding that a zika czar could coordinate efforts with state and local governments around the world was was done for ebola.
The Zika virus is the suspected cause of babies in Brazil and other countries being born with abnormally small heads. The virus has also been reported in Mexico, the Caribbean, tropical Asia and parts of southeast Africa.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant not to travel to Zika-affected areas.READ MORE: NYPD: Wounded Officer Wilbert Mora Being Transferred To NYU Langone Medical Center, Still In Critical Condition
The Obama administration has asked Congress for $1.8 billion to fight Zika.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that pregnant women in New York who have recently traveled to countries impacted by the Zika virus can get free tests for the infection.
Symptoms are usually mild, can include a rash, fever, joint pain, or conjunctivitis and appear a few days after a bite by an infected mosquito.
Additional information on Zika is available here. DOH has also set up a Zika virus information line which will be staffed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The number is: 1-888-364-4723.MORE NEWS: Police: 62-Year-Old Pushed Onto Subway Tracks In Lower Manhattan
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)