Following a second confirmed case of Zika virus in Ohio, several U.S. Senators have introduced legislation that would add Zika to the FDA program that helps incentivize the development of new drugs and treatments for Tropical diseases.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has joined Senators Al Franken, (D – Minn.) Bill Nelson, (D- Florida) and Johnny Isakson (R – Ga.) in introducing a bipartisan bill that would accelerate the development of a Zika vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control is reporting 35 cases of Zika virus in 12 states and the District of Columbia prior to Ohio’s case.

"The Zika virus, like so many other public health threats, is never more than a plane ride away, and we must make sure the U.S. stands ready to prevent its spread and give care to those who need it," said Brown in a press release . "Our reaction must keep pace with the spread of Zika, which means we should make developing an effective treatments for the virus a priority. By adding Zika to the list of diseases eligible for a priority review voucher within the FDA, we can incentivize the development and approval of a vaccine or treatment options to contain the virus and ensure that those effected by Zika can seek care."

If passed the bill would add Zika to an FDA program called the Priority Review Voucher Program. The PRVP encourages the development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases. Brown was a key figure in creating the program in 2007 under the FDA Amendments Act.

The Zika virus is prevalent in 26 countries including the US and three US territories. The World Health Organization has labeled the virus as a global public health emergency, however there is no known vaccine for the virus. The disease is not deadly, with most victims suffering symptoms that last from several days to a week, and include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, red eyes, and headache. The disease is also linked to the birth defect microcephaly, which has been linked to developmental delays and other life-threatening problems, as well as several other serious effects.

Additionally, Franken, Nelson and Brown sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to add the Zika virus to the PRVR, Brown has also asked President Obama to take aggressive action in addressing the spread and prevention of Zika in the United States.

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