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Arizona representatives co-sponsor valley fever research bill

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PHOENIX — Members of Arizona’s congressional delegation from both parties are backing a bill aimed at improving research into the debilitating disease known as valley fever.

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who co-sponsored the FORWARD Act of 2018 with Republican Reps. David Schweikert and Martha McSally, said very little research into valley fever has been done and very few effective treatments exist.

“Our bill will support new research and encourage the development of innovative treatments to help fight this disease,” Sinema said.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last month.

“This legislation represents a breakthrough for researchers of this orphan disease,” Schweikert said in a news release issued by McCarthy’s office when the bill was introduced.

“The FORWARD Act will tackle Arizona’s public health crisis head on and focus on eradicating this infectious disease once and for all,” McSally said in the release.

Sinema said the bill also provides money to researchers looking into the cause of the infection that leads to the disease.

“It also establishes a grant program to support universities, hospitals and nonprofits that are studying the disease. So this is a big move forward in the work to do research and provide life-saving treatments to folks who get valley fever,” Sinema said.

According to Mayo Clinic, spores that can lead to valley fever are stirred up when soil is disrupted by farming, construction and wind.

Other parts of the bill include directing the Department of Health and Human Services to set up an advisory committee to oversee research into the illness.

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