Schumer calls on feds to fight, contain Zika virus

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NEW YORK — As the Zika virus rapidly spreads through Central and South America, what can the United States do to prevent an outbreak here?

New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced a plan Sunday to stop the virus.

"At least five individuals right here in New York City have Zika, including one woman who is pregnant," Schumer said.

The Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes, is linked to the birth defect microcephaly. Babies are born with small heads and incomplete brain development.

New York resident Erin Green has plans to travel to Brazil in March, and  says she is thinking of canceling her trip.

"I am scared out of my mind. I am almost 30-years-old and I am thinking about having a family soon and it's a scary idea," Green said.

Schumer said he wants the federal government to deploy resources to other countries to prevent, contain and treat Zika.

He also wants the government to work with the private sector to develop a vaccine, treatment and cure.

Schumer also urged the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency.

The WHO is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the Zika virus.

"The good news is we are right now ahead of the virus. It's winter. It can't come here," Schumer said.

But mosquito season is just months away in New York.

Schumer said he hopes there could be a vaccine by the end of the year.

When the senator was asked about the Olympics in Brazil this summer, he said that if Brazil cannot contain the Zika virus, then the U.S. government would consider telling people not to travel there.

A travel ban is not currently on the table.