What are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considered the foremost authority for human health. Internationally, the CDC is recognized as a global authority, working in tandem with other health agencies to address emergent health issues all over the world. The CDC is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and has a number of goals as a health organization, all targeted at improving health and living conditions for Americans while also gaining a deeper understanding of disease around the world.

The CDC was founded in 1946 to assist with malaria control and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The scope of the organization only grew after that: today, it handles disease outbreaks all over the world, occupational safety, infectious and chronic disease within the United States, and contamination and environmental illness. The CDC helps regional health authorities link data with other parts of the United States, a very important tool in identifying emergent diseases like hanta virus as well as tracking down the cause of food borne illness.


CDC investigators are stationed in over 25 nations, as well as all over the United States. Teams train together so that they can mobilize quickly in an emergency, often leaving in less than 24 hours to collect data and provide treatment as a well organized team. The quick response of the CDC is highly valued all over the world, with CDC representatives being first on the ground at the outbreak of major diseases like Ebola, Marburg virus, and others.

A career with the CDC can be exciting and varied, and the CDC has room for people with a wide number of skills. Pathologists, linguists, doctors, ethnologists, and others all work for the CDC to create a safety net of knowledge and skill in the event of a major disaster. CDC scientists can be found on the scene examining sites of environmental contamination, taking tissue samples from individuals who have died from unknown causes, educating women about health issues, researching diseases and cures in the lab, and meeting with major world leaders to talk about emerging infectious threats like avian flu.

In the United States, the CDC has the highest rated pathogen lab in the nation, and is equipped to handle diseases at all levels of danger. It is also one of the best labs in the world, and many countries send specimens to the CDC for further study and examination. The CDC also retains the American stock of smallpox virus in carefully controlled conditions. Because of the extensive amount of talent and equipment available to the CDC, it is often regarded as one of the premier disease fighting organizations in the world, comparable to facilities like Porton Down in England.


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