In addition, the London-based European Medicines Agency, Europe's drug regulator, said it has formed an expert task force on Zika to advise companies working on vaccines and medicines against the virus.
There are no vaccines or treatment for Zika and none even undergoing clinical studies, as the disease was previously viewed as relatively benign. Most infected people develop no symptoms or only mild ones like fever and rash.
"The good news is this is not like Ebola. People don't die of Zika. A lot of people get it and don't even know that they have it," Obama told CBS News in an interview aired on Monday. "But there shouldn't be panic on this. This is not something where people are going to die from it. It is something we have to take seriously."
Scientists are working to find out if there is a causal link between Zika and babies born with microcephaly, meaning they have abnormally small heads and can suffer developmental problems. The research began after a huge rise in such birth defects last year in Brazil at the same time the virus took hold there.
Most of the money sought by Obama, who faces pressure from Republicans and some fellow Democrats to act decisively on Zika, would be spent in the United States on testing, surveillance and response in affected areas.
"As spring and summer approach, bringing with them larger and more active mosquito populations, we must be fully prepared to mitigate and quickly address local transmission within the continental U.S., particularly in the southern United States," the White House said in a statement.
Obama's funding request to Congress also includes $335 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development to support mosquito control, maternal health and other Zika-related public health efforts in affected countries in the Americas.
There have been 50 confirmed cases of Zika in the continental United States, among people who traveled to affected areas, according to federal health officials.
The White House said it would ask for $250 million for fiscally struggling Puerto Rico. Zika is being transmitted in Puerto Rico and other warm areas.
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