NEW YORK (WABC) --A summertime pest, or worldwide health emergency? The mosquito-borne Zika virus and its potential to spread here this summer has some politicians calling for global action.
"We have to build a firewall against Zika that prevents it from New York and Americas," said Senator Charles Schumer.
The Zika virus is spread from infected mosquitoes. In pregnant women, it can also cause birth defects, most notably, smaller heads in the babies. It can also lead to paralysis.
It may be winter in New York, but the virus has already spread to the area, prompting city health officials to alert doctors and clinics to look for the virus in patients who have travelled.
"(Saturday) we were informed of a confirmed case of Zika in a pregnant woman who had traveled," said Dr. Mary Bassett, "There are three New York residents who have been diagnosed with Zika."
The origin of the virus is said to be in Brazil, which is now in crisis mode. Even soldiers there are being deployed to fight the tiny enemies. The soldiers are visiting homes, and looking for any standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including the back of refrigerators for possible condensation.
"The first confirmed case in Brazil was back in May. Less than one year later, 1.5 million cases in Brazil alone, 4,000 babies born with head smaller than average," adds Senator Schumer.