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Travelers, Health Organizations Weigh Risk Of Zika Virus

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - As travelers in the United States weigh the risks of taking a trip to a country impacted by Zika virus, organizations and world leaders are beginning to take action to combat the virus.

On Monday, President Obama announced he would ask Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency response to help in the U.S. and overseas.

The World Health Organization reports Zika virus has never killed a person, but there are strong links between the virus and birth abnormalities for pregnant women. Doctors say people could have the virus and not even know it because the symptoms can be like a mild flu.

The Red Cross is also asking for funds to spread relief and supplies around the world.

While many Americans just learned of Zika virus within the last few weeks, it has spread fast to 29 countries. Fifty Americans have returned to the U.S. infected with the virus.

During the lunch hour on Monday, some women in Minneapolis discussed the potential harm of Zika virus.

"Right now, they're saying don't get pregnant for a month after traveling, but what if they find out in the future that if you've had it at all, it could impact your kids?" Emily Wells said.

At 18 weeks along, Patti Wagner told WCCO she has decided to cancel an upcoming vacation to Mexico.

"I would never want to put my unborn baby at risk for even such a small percentage risk," Wagner said.

Minneapolis-based OB-GYN Dr. Leslee Jaeger is working to bring bug spray to remote areas of Haiti, because some women in North, Central and South American countries do not have easy access to it or birth control.

"Increasing awareness when you're not giving them the resources to combat it is almost more difficult for these women," Dr. Jaeger said.

Dr. Jaeger also expressed concern that less travel could harshly impact the sometimes fragile economies of some of the impacted countries.

"We need to be concerned with the women who are living in these countries and don't have the option to cancel a vacation," Jaeger said.

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