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Medical News & Perspectives
April 18, 2001

Disease Detectives Celebrate 50 Years of Successful Sleuthing

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JAMA. 2001;285(15):1947-1949. doi:10.1001/jama.285.15.1947

Atlanta—They are perhaps the most influential medical group you've never heard of. Among their numbers rank legions of state health officers, a dozen deans of prestigious schools of public health, two surgeons general, the chief medical writer at the New York Times, and the current director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the past half century, they've been involved in investigating thousands of public health threats, infectious or otherwise, in the United States and abroad. Polio, smallpox, lead poisoning in children, vinyl chloride and liver cancer, Legionnaire's disease, Ebola virus, toxic shock syndrome, the first cases of AIDS, West Nile virus, and violence in the schools have all been illuminated by their work.