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CDC Timeline

Take a minute to review many of CDC's momentous contributions to public health since it was organized in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center.

2010 - Present

  • 2013

    • MERS-CoV: CDC activates its Emergency Operations Center to investigate a novel coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
    • 40th Anniversary of Arctic Investigations Program
  • 2012
    • Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Response: CDC responds to the largest healthcare-associated outbreak in United States history.
    • CDC TIPS campaign: TIPS from fromer smokersTIPS from Former Smokers - CDC launched the groundbreaking Tips from Former Smokers national ad campaign on March 15, 2012, to increase awareness about the human suffering caused by smoking and to encourage smokers to quit.
  • 2011
    • CDC marks the 65th anniversary of its founding on July 1, 1946.
    • 30 years of HIV: June 5, 2011, marks the 30th year since CDC reported the first cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
    • CDC anniversaryCDC Continues to Support the Global Polio Eradication Effort by activating the Emergency Operations Center to strengthen the agency’s partnership engagement through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which is committed to completing the eradication of polio.
  • 2010
    • In the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, CDC response efforts help prevent 7,000 deaths from cholera.

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2000 - 2009

  • 2009
    • CDC identifies the novel H1N1 influenza virus. The H1N1 flu pandemic dominated CDC activity for the year, and demonstrated CDC's unique ability to assess and explain risk.
  • 2008
    • novel H1N1 influenza virusLarge multi-state foodborne outbreaks are detected and investigated, revealing gaps in food safety and the need to improve prevention efforts.
  • 2007
    • CDC issues federal order of isolation, the last such order being issued in 1963.
  • 2006
    • CDC celebrates 60th anniversary.
  • 2005
    • Rubella was eliminated in the United StatesRubella was eliminated in the United States.
  • 2004
    • CDC provided support for laws restricting access to over-the-counter medications used in methamphetamine production in Georgia.
  • 2003
    • SARS was first reported in Asia. CDC provided guidance for surveillance, clinical and laboratory evaluation, and reporting.
  • 2002
    • CDC reported that U.S. newborn HIV infections were down 80 percent since 1981CDC reported that U.S. newborn HIV infections were down 80 percent since 1981.
  • 2001
    • CDC learned of the first anthrax case; the victim was a 63-year-old Florida man. He would be the first in a series of domestic terrorism victims of infection by anthrax sent through the mail.
  • 2000
    • Children's Health Act of 2000 established Safe Motherhood, a CDC program to better understand the burden of maternal complications and mortality.

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1990 - 1999

  • 1999
    • CDC's Laboratory Response Network was establishedCDC’s Laboratory Response Network was established.
  • 1998
    • For the first time since 1981, AIDS was diagnosed in more African-American and Hispanic men than in gay white men
  • 1997
    • CDC participated in the nationally televised White House event of the Presidential Apology for the Tuskegee Study.
  • 1996
    • Polio elimination certified in the AmericasCDC found measurable levels of serum cotinine in the blood of 88 percent of American nonsmokers.
  • 1995
    • CDC recommended offering HIV testing to all pregnant women.
  • 1994
    • Polio elimination certified in the Americas.
  • 1993
    • CDC investigated an outbreak of a mysterious illness in the southwestern United States, later known as hantavirus.
  • 1992
    • CDC reported the possible transmission of HIV from a dentist to a patientThe National Academy of Sciences reported on a dangerous new phenomenon: the emergence of new and virulent diseases that are resistant to antibiotics.
  • 1991
    • PHS recommended all women of childbearing years consume 400 mg of folic acid/day to reduce the risk of pregnancies affected by spina bifida and anencephaly.
  • 1990
    • For the first time, CDC reported the possible transmission of HIV from a dentist to a patient in Florida during an invasive procedure.

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1980 - 1989

  • 1989
    • CDC reported every 6 of 10 killings involved guns, making firearms the 8th leading cause of death, after diabetes but ahead of liver disease.
  • 1988
    • CDC established the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  • 1987
    • CDC reported that about 7,000 workers die on the job annually; 42 percent of female workers who die on the job are murdered.
  • 1986
    • The Office on Smoking and Health, which targets the nation’s primary preventable health problem, became part of CDC.
  • 1985
    • CDC study stated polysaccharide, a new vaccine, was a cost-effective means to protect children who were at risk for developing Haemophilus influenzae.
  • 1984
    • CDC studied Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during combat and later fathered babies; no increased risk of birth defects was found.
  • 1983
    • CDC established a Violence Epidemiology Branch to apply public health prevention strategies to child abuse, homicide, and suicide.
  • 1982
    • The first diagnosis of the fatal disease later known as AIDS was describedCDC advised of the possible risk of Reye syndrome associated with the use of aspirin by children with chickenpox and flu-like symptoms.
  • 1981
    • The first diagnosis of the fatal disease later known as AIDS was described in the June 5, 1981, issue of MMWR.
  • 1980
    • MMWR published the first report on a newly recognized illness associated with tampon use: toxic shock syndrome.
    • The World Health Organization declared global eradication of smallpox in May, 1980.

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1970 - 1979

  • 1979
    • First Healthy People report published.
  • 1978
    • Downward trend in the number of Americans immunizedAlcorn County, Mississippi, reported cases of the first outbreak of tuberculosis resistance to formerly effective drugs.
  • 1977
    • The last naturally occurring case of smallpox emerged in Somalia in 1977. 
  • 1976
    • CDC investigated two outbreaks of a previously unknown deadly hemorrhagic fever, later known as Ebola, in Zaire and Sudan.
  • 1975
    • The last victim of variola major smallpox, the more severe form of the disease, was reported.
  • 1974
    • CDC planned a major campaign to reverse the downward trend in the number of Americans immunized.
  • 1973
    • Communicable Disease CenterMMWR reported that lead emissions in a residential area constituted a public health threat—contrary to popular assumption at the time.
  • 1972
    • CDC assisted Sierra Leone in fighting a new outbreak of Lassa fever, a mysterious lethal viral disease
  • 1971
    • The National Center for Health Statistics conducted the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to capture the health status of Americans.
  • 1970
    • The Communicable Disease Center became the Center for Disease Control.

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1960 - 1969

  • 1969
    • CDC constructed a “biocontainment lab” to protect scientists while they work with deadly and infectious pathogens.
  • 1968
    • Measles eradication campaignCDC investigated an unidentified, highly infectious respiratory disease in Pontiac, Michigan, later identified as Legionnaire’s disease.
  • 1967
    • The Communicable Disease Center was briefly called The National Communicable Disease Center until 1970, when it was renamed the Center for Disease Control.
  • 1967
    • The Foreign Quarantine Service, one of the oldest and most prestigious units of the Public Health Service, joined CDC.
  • 1966
    • CDC tested the newly developed Jet Gun and vaccine for smallpoxCDC announced a national measles eradication campaign at the American Public Health Association meeting.
  • 1965
    • New surveillance systems added to the original National Surveillance Program of 1952 included measles, shigellosis, tetanus, and trichinosis.
  • 1964
    • The first Surgeon General’s report linking smoking to lung cancer was released. It stated that “cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action.”
  • 1963
    • Dr. Robert Kissling developed the fluorescent antibody test for rabiesCDC tested the newly developed Jet Gun and vaccine for smallpox.
  • 1962
    • CDC played a key role in one of the greatest triumphs of public health: the eradication of smallpox.
  • 1961
    • CDC took over publication of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
  • 1960
    • The Tuberculosis Program moved from the Public Health Service to CDC.

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1950 - 1959

  • 1959
    • National guidelines for influenza vaccine were developedDr. Robert Kissling developed the fluorescent antibody test for rabies, first used in a field trial with 100 percent accuracy.
  • 1958
    • A CDC team traveled overseas, for the first time, to Southeast Asia to respond to an epidemic of cholera and smallpox
  • 1957
    • National guidelines for influenza vaccine were developed.
  • 1956
    • CDC established the Polio Surveillance ProgramDr. William Cherry found the first practical use for the fluorescent technique and used it to research communicable diseases of bacterial origin.
  • 1955
    • CDC established the Polio Surveillance Program.
  • 1954
    • Alexander D. Langmuir, MD, MPH, set up a leptospirosis laboratory in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • 1953
    • CDC reported first case of rabies in a bat.
  • 1952
    • First investigation of an epidemic of polioU.S. Surgeon General Dr. Leonard A. Scheele reported that the Communicable Disease Center was ready to combat possible biological warfare.
  • 1951
    • The Epidemic Intelligence Service was established to help protect against biological warfare and manmade epidemics.
  • 1950
    • Fifteen CDC staffers conducted the first investigation of an epidemic of polio in Paulding County, Ohio.

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1946 - 1949

  • 1949
    • The US was declared free of malaria as a significant public health problem.
  • 1948
    • CDC gained worldwide recognition for the quality and quantity of its contributions to the taxonomy of the Enterobacteriaceae.
  • 1947
    • In San Francisco, CDC took over the Public Health Service Plague Laboratory, thus acquiring an Epidemiology Division.
  • 1946
    • The Communicable Disease Center was organized in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 1.
  • Page last reviewed: August 29, 2013
  • Page last updated: August 29, 2013
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