Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services based in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia adjacent to the campus of Emory University and east of the city of Atlanta. It works to protect public health and safety by providing information to enhance health decisions, and it promotes health through partnerships with state health departments and other organizations. The CDC focuses national attention on developing and applying disease prevention and control (especially infectious diseases), environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, prevention and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.


On July 1, 1946, the Communicable Disease Center was established as a small branch of the U.S. Public Health Service and was located on the sixth floor of the Volunteer Building on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia, hundreds of miles from Washington, D.C., and other federal agencies and in what was once the heart of the malaria zone. The new agency was descended from the wartime agency, Malaria Control in War Areas.

CDC initially focused on fighting malaria by killing mosquitoes. During the first year of operations, 59 percent of its personnel were engaged in this effort. Among its 369 employees, the key jobs at CDC were originally entomology and engineering. In 1946, there were only seven medical officers on duty.

At that time CDC’s budget was about $1 million. The insecticide DDT, available since 1943, was the primary weapon in the malaria fight, and CDC’s early challenges included obtaining enough trucks, sprayers, and shovels to wage the war on mosquitoes. In CDC’s initial years, more than six and a half million homes were sprayed, and an early organization chart was drawn, somewhat fancifully, in the shape of a mosquito.

CDC founder Dr. Joseph Mountin continued to advocate for public health issues and to push for CDC to extend its responsibilities to many other communicable diseases. In 1947, CDC made a token payment of $10 to Emory University for 15 acres of land on Clifton Road in Atlanta, the home of CDC headquarters today. CDC employees collected the money to make the purchase. The benefactor behind the “gift” was Robert Woodruff, Chairman of the Board of the Coca-Cola Company. Woodruff had a long-time interest in malaria control; it had been a problem in areas where he went hunting.

While it’s still known by the initials CDC, the agency’s name today is Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC has broadened its focus to include chronic diseases, disabilities, injury control, workplace hazards, environmental health threats, and terrorism preparedness. CDC combats emerging diseases and other health risks, including birth defects, West Nile virus, obesity, avian and pandemic flu, E. coli, auto wrecks, and bioterrorism, to name a few.

CDC operates under the Department of Health and Human Services umbrella.

The CDC has one of the few Bio-Safety Level 4 laboratories in the country, as well as one of only two "official" repositories of smallpox in the world. The second smallpox store reside at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in the Russian Federation, though it is possible that other countries may have obtained samples during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Budget and workforce

CDC’s budget for 2008 is $8.8 billion. Today the staff numbers nearly 15,000 (including 6,000 contractors and 840 Commissioned Corps officers) in 170 occupations. Other CDC job titles include engineer, entomologist, epidemiologist, biologist, physician, veterinarian, behaviorial scientist, nurse, medical technologist, economist, health communicator, toxicologist, chemist, computer scientist, and statistician.

CDC headquarters in DeKalb County, Georgia as seen from Emory University

CDC is headquartered in DeKalb County, Georgia, but it has 10 other locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Those locations include Anchorage, Alaska; Cincinnati, Ohio; Fort Collins, Colorado; Hyattsville, Maryland; Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Spokane, Washington; and Washington, D.C. In addition, CDC staff are located in state and local health agencies, quarantine/border health offices at ports of entry, and 45 countries around the world, from Angola to Zimbabwe.

More than a third of CDC’s employees are members of a racial or ethnic minority group, and women account for nearly 60 percent of CDC’s workforce. Nearly 40 percent of employees have a master’s degree; 25 percent have a Ph.D.; and 10 percent have medical degrees. The average age of a CDC worker is 46.

The CDC campus in Atlanta houses facilities for the research of extremely dangerous biological agents. This setting was featured in the Dustin Hoffman film Outbreak, although the location depicted in the film was supposed to be the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases bio-research facility. The CDC labs also figure prominently in the book "The Demon in the Freezer" by Richard Preston and "Virus Hunter" by C.J. Peters, former head of the Special Pathogens Branch at the CDC.

The CDC also conducts the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey system.[1]

Organizational Structure

CDC consists of centers which include the Coordinating Center for Infectious Disease, Coordinating Center for Environmental and Occupational Health and Injury Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, and Coordinating Center for Public Health and Information Services.

CDC timeline

CDC Timeline

Data and survey systems


  • Comprehensive list of publications and products[5]
  • State of CDC report[6]
  • CDC Programs in Brief[7]
  • Emerging Infectious Disease Journal[9]

Notes and references

  1. "Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System". CDC: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved 2006-08-05.
  2. "CDC Data and Statistics". CDC - National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  3. "Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System". CDC - National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  4. "NCHS - Mortality Data - About the Mortality Medical Data System". CDC - National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved 2007-01-09.
  5. "CDC - Publications". CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  6. "State of CDC Report: Fiscal Year 2005". CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  7. "Programs In Brief: Home Page". CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  8. "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report - MMWR". CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
  9. "Emerging Infectious Diseases". CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2006-08-10.

See also

External links

The CDC Foundation operates independently from CDC as a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the State of Georgia. The creation of the Foundation was authorized by section 399F of the Public Health Service Act to support the mission of CDC in partnership with the private sector, including organizations, foundations, businesses, educational groups, and individuals.

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