Cassiana Severino holds her daughter Melisa Vitoria, born with microcephaly at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is well-adapted to humans, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. The Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly in newborn children. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

(Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama will ask Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus, the White House said Monday.

Thousands of pregnant women in South America, Central America and the Caribbean have been infected with the mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to a birth defect.

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