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Public Health Crisis - Zika Threat Escalates


Last updated 8/5/2016 at 9:17am

Two babies have been born with Zika-related microcephaly from mothers who were infected with the virus, the California Department of Public Health announced Thursday.

As of July 28, 15 babies had been born with Zika-related birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In California, 114 people were infected with the virus, including 21 pregnant women. Los Angeles County has the highest number of infected people in the state at 24, followed by San Diego County at 23.

As Zika escalates into a public health crisis and the number of mosquito-transmitted cases grows, Republicans and Democrats are pointing fingers over the failure by Congress to commit federal dollars to fight the virus.

Although the women were infected from traveling to countries where the disease was endemic, according to the CDPH, President Barack Obama on Thursday sought to pressure congressional Republicans over the issue, encouraging voters to "call your members of Congress and tell them to do their job."

"The money that we need to fight Zika is rapidly running out. The situation is getting critical," Obama said at a news conference.

“This is a sobering reminder for Californians that Zika can cause serious harm to a developing fetus,” CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said. Yet lawmakers left Washington in mid-July for a seven-week recess without approving any of the $1.9 billion that Obama requested in February to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus.

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