CDC History

The Communicable Disease Center (CDC) was opened in Atlanta, Georgia on July 1, 1946. In the early years, the CDC was descended from the wartime agency Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA) as it was initially focused on fighting malaria by killing mosquitoes. With fewer than 400 original employees, the key jobs included entomologists and engineers with only seven being medical officers.

Within a short time, the CDC expanded its focus onto Polio, Leptospirosis, Rabies and biological warfare and manmade epidemics. By 1970, The Communicable Disease Center became the Center for Disease Control to better reflect its broader mission in preventive health.In 1973, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) became part of the CDC.

By the 1980's, the CDC became more diversified as it established additional offices. The CDC established the Violence Epidemiology Branch and the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.The Office of Smoking and Health was also incorporated into the CDC.

In the 1990's the CDC made an additional change to its name by adding "Prevention" but kept the initials CDC.

The CDC Today

"Health Protection...Health Equity" is what the CDC is calling their vision for the 21st Century. The CDC Mission is to collaborate to create the expertise, information and tools that people and communities need to protect their health.By working with partners throughout the nation and the world, the CDC seeks to accomplish its mission to:

  • Monitor health
  • Detect and investigate health problems
  • Conduct research to enhance prevention
  • Develop and advocate sound public health policies
  • Implement prevention strategies
  • Promote healthy behaviors
  • Foster safe and healthful environments
  • Provide leadership and training

The CDC incorporates three core values: Accountability, Respect and Integrity.These three values are what the CDC thrives on and holds high in standards of quality and ethical practices.The CDC pledges to the American people:

  • To be a diligent steward of the funds entrusted to it
  • To provide an environment for intellectual and personal growth and integrity
  • To base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data, openly and objectively derived
  • To place the benefits to society above the benefits to the institution
  • To treat all persons with dignity, honesty, and respect

With the potential of new diseases spreading across the globe at extreme rates, the CDC plays a vital role in controlling such diseases by investigating outbreaks at home and abroad.

CDC Role in Providing Credible Information

The CDC has established many ways of delivering information on health and safety to the communities and the people that need it.The CDC works with various public health partners and media to make sure the information has the outlet it deserves.Some examples of how the CDC chooses to communicate information include:

  • The CDC has taken over the publication of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) since 1961. The MMWR publishes important data on deaths and certain diseases from every state every week.
  • The CDC has published the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal since 1995.The journal is a peer-reviewed publication established expressly to promote the recognition of new and reemerging infectious diseases around the world.
  • The National Vital Statistics System produces key indicators of health from birth and death certificates
  • The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the primary source of information on the prevalence of risk behaviors among Americans and their perceptions of a variety of health issues.
  • The CDC has established seven Centers of Excellence for Birth Defects Prevention Research across the country.

The CDC in the Future

With threats against health continuously changing and expanding globally, the CDC has new issues to deal with everyday.Some of these new issues include:

  • Meeting the health and safety needs of a changing workforce
  • Unitizing new technologies to provide credible health information
  • Protecting individuals against emerging infectious diseases including bio-terrorism
  • Fostering safe and healthy environments
  • Working with partners to improve global health
  • Futures Initiative.

Sources for More Information