The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. What started as a malaria control agency has blossomed into an institution renowned for its excellence in the field of epidemiology.
The first class of Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers graduated in 1951. These "disease detectives," so wonderfully depicted in the January 1991 issue of the National Geographic magazine by Peter Jaret, have blazed a trail of success and glory worldwide. "The CDC says" has become a common refrain for sweaty-palmed hospital infection control officers prior to the inevitable visit by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations when they wish to provide legitimacy to their infection control ventures. EIS officers have been involved in global programs for the eradication of infectious diseases ranging from poliomyelitis to dracunculiasis. They have investigated and defined the scope of such new diseases as legionnaire disease, toxic shock syndrome,
Panwalker AP, Howard SA. Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC. JAMA. 1996;276(19):1602–1603. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540190074034
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