Ros-Lehtinen Pushes Federal Government to be Proactive in the Fight Against Zika Virus

Feb 4, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen Pushes Federal Government to be Proactive in the Fight Against Zika Virus

“I understand people’s fears and concerns over the Zika virus, and I want all South Floridians to know that I am exploring every avenue at the U.S. Government’s disposal to ensure a comprehensive response that limits the spread of this virus as quickly as possible.”

(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is working to mobilize federal government resources to better prepare our community for the continued arrival of the Zika virus that is spreading through Central and South America and the Caribbean. Given our subtropical climate, robust international trade, and the presence throughout our region of the invasive mosquito responsible for spreading the virus, Aedes aegypti, Zika poses a potentially serious threat to public health in South Florida.

There is substantial county, state, and federal public health infrastructure in our community that make it unlikely that Zika will spread with the same speed and force in South Florida as it has in tropical America. However, it is essential to provide federal agencies with the appropriate direction and flexibility to support effective and decisive action to reduce invasive mosquito populations, contain the spread of the virus, and minimize human health impacts in South Florida and the continental United States.

To that end, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has cosponsored two new bills: The Zika Response and Safety Act (H.R. 4446) gives federal Departments and agencies the discretion to utilize any unspent funds assigned to Ebola containment efforts to also be available for Zika virus response and preparedness, while H.R. 4400 directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand the neglected tropical disease product priority review voucher (PRV) program to encourage the development of new treatments for Zika virus. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen also signed a letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff to use the Agency’s congressionally-granted authority to quickly add Zika virus to the qualifying list of neglected tropical diseases eligible for the PRV program.

Statement by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen:

"As an international hub for travel and trade, South Florida remains at risk for a variety of communicable diseases from all over the world. Luckily, we’re blessed to have world-class local, state, and public health infrastructure and services, and amazing biomedical research institutions to help minimize the impacts of the inevitable arrival of each successive threat. I understand people’s fears and concerns over the Zika virus, and I want all South Floridians to know that I am exploring every avenue at the U.S. Government’s disposal to ensure a comprehensive response that limits the spread of this virus as quickly as possible.”

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