Disease Detectives

Disease Detective

This week the focus is on CDC’s work to safeguard health security. Called the nation’s health protection agency, CDC disease detectives are working 24/7 to protect Americans from health and safety threats, both foreign and domestic. Whether it’s a measles outbreak on a college campus or a global pandemic, disease detectives look for clues to help figure out what happened to cause the problem. Since 2001, CDC disease detectives have responded to hundreds of events and incidents including the anthrax attacks, major hurricanes (e.g., Katrina), and foodborne outbreaks.​


Key Facts

  • Disease detectives work around the world to track diseases, research outbreaks, and respond to emergencies of all kinds.
  • CDC began in 1946 and today is the nation’s prevention agency, employing more than 15,000 health professionals.
  • Approximately 70% of CDC’s funds go to support state and local communities to save lives and protect people.


CDC Headquarters

CDC Headquarters

For over 60 years, CDC has been dedicated to protecting health and promoting quality of life through the prevention and control of disease, injury, and disability.

Untreated water specimen

Untreated Water Specimen

By examining untreated water specimens (wild stream), like this one, CDC detectives found the presence of unidentified organisms. Though many organisms found in untreated waters are harmless, there are many that are harmful to both humans and animals, including Giardia and E. coli.



This colorized image of an Ebola virus is an example of just one of the deadly diseases CDC disease detectives are working to prevent and control.

Young Family

Public Health

You are the public in "public health"; CDC can do the research, provide tools and information, and make the recommendations, but a healthy lifestyle is built from the hundreds of choices that we each, as individuals, make every day.

CDC lab staff

CDC Lab Staff

CDC has laboratories and supports other U.S. and global laboratories to identify diseases, foodborne outbreaks, and biosecurity threats; protect U.S. blood supply; screen for genetic and other health risk factors; monitor the health of communities, identify environmental hazards and more.

Prevention Tips

  • Get a kit. Take the time now to prepare emergency water supplies, food supplies and disaster supplies kit, you can provide for your entire family.
  • Develop a family plan. Families can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team.
  • Be informed. Learn how to shelter-in place, understand quarantine and isolation, and maintain a healthy state of mind to cope with the crisis.​

More at CDC,gov

Page last reviewed: March 3, 2016