It all started with mosquitoes. Seventy years ago, in July of 1946, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), then the Communicable Disease Center, launched to fight malaria. Today, things have come full circle for the agency as its scientists work around the clock to combat Zika virus—a largely mosquito-borne infection—in the United States and abroad.
A Zika epidemic is ongoing in the United States territory of Puerto Rico, whose Department of Health reported that more than 24 000 people had been infected as of September 29, including almost 2000 pregnant women. As many as 10 300 pregnant women might become infected there during the outbreak, according to a CDC-coauthored analysis, which could result in an estimated 100 to 270 infants with the birth defect microcephaly. In Miami, the first local mosquito-borne transmissions were reported in the continental United States, and in a historic move, the CDC advised pregnant women not to travel to affected neighborhoods.
Abbasi J. On CDC’s 70th Anniversary, Director Tom Frieden, MD, Looks Ahead. JAMA. 2016;316(18):1857-1858. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.12699