Almost 200 Zika Cases Reported in the U.S.

Aedes aegypti mosquito
FILE - This 2006 file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. The The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, announced new guidance for doctors whose pregnant patients may have traveled to regions with a tropical illness linked to birth defects. Officials say doctors should ask pregnant women about their travel and certain symptoms, and, if warranted, test them for an infection with the Zika virus. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – Nearly 200 cases of Zika infection have been reported in the U.S. – all traced to travel abroad.

Health officials released the numbers Thursday, and pleaded for Congress to provide $1.9 billion to fight the virus in Latin America and help prevent it from spreading to the continental U.S.

Some of the money would go to Puerto Rico, where Zika is spreading locally and 159 cases have been reported.

Capitol Hill Republicans have deferred the request, insisting leftover Ebola funds can be used. Health officials say new funding is needed.

Zika virus is mainly spread through mosquito bites. At worst, it causes only mild symptoms. But there’s growing evidence linking it to a rare birth defect and to a nerve condition that causes temporary paralysis.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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