NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) joined health officials Sunday to ask for increased funding to prevent and treat the Zika virus.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, Dr. Bernard Dreyer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said at the Madison Square Park news conference that the time to act is now.

The Zika virus is a true urgent public health threat,” Dreyer said.

Dreyer said action cannot wait until after babies are born in the U.S. with Zika-related birth defects.

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Schumer said the U.S. House of Representatives’ approved sum of $600 million to fight Zika comes up woefully short.

“There won’t be enough money to come up with a vaccine quickly enough, there won’t be enough money for prevention and there won’t be enough money to do the research to find out exactly how Zika works,” Schumer said.

Schumer and Gillibrand are calling for $1.1 billion in emergency funding dedicated to preventing and treating Zika in the U.S.

Bergen County officials in New Jersey have been dumping thousands of gambusia, a special kind of fish, into ponds to help control the mosquito population, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

“These little fish– they’re the size of a minnow if you will. And they have a voracious appetite to eat the mosquito larvae,” Carol Rizzo explained.

Rizzo has been placing the tiny fish into two ponds next to his home for 15 years and said it makes a difference. Further south in New Jersey, Gloucester County officials are also being more aggressive with their use of mosquito larvae eating fish.

So far, there have been at least 114 cases of Zika in New York state, with more than a dozen of them involving pregnant women.


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