- - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Researchers are reportedly closing in on an approved Zika vaccine during the first round of safety trials, with promising results in mice and monkeys.

Two drug companies — Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science — are currently testing a small number of volunteers with a DNA-based vaccine, ABC News reported.

The preclinical trials for a vaccine have induced immunity in mice and monkeys, indicating a greater likelihood that the vaccine could prevent infection in humans, ABC reported.

Multiple entities are pursuing a vaccine for Zika, which is causing birth defects in infants born to infected mothers in Latin America, though any product must go through a series of trials and regulatory approvals before it is widely distributed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, has said a finished vaccine might not be available until early 2018.

President Obama has requested $1.9 billion in emergency spending to speed the pursuit of a vaccine and better diagnostic test for Zika, while bolstering local mosquito control efforts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday advised pregnant women to avoid a section of Miami where the Zika virus appears to be spreading by mosquito bite, after the tally of known infections from the square-mile zone jumped from four to 14 in just three days.

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