Obama: Diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatments needed for Zika virus
US President Barack Obama addresses the 38th Anniversary Awards Gala of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the Zika virus, following a briefing on the spread of the mosquito-transmitted disease, the White House said.

The World Health Organization has predicted the virus, linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil, will spread to most countries across the Americas, including the United States.

"The president emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to make available better diagnostic tests, to develop vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that all Americans have information about the Zika virus," the White House said in a statement.

Obama's briefing included Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, and covered factors that could affect the potential spread of the virus in the United States.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)