About Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases

At a glance

The Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED) works to protect the public from diseases spread through food, water, and the environment.

A couple sits by a river after a hike

Our mission

DFWED's mission is to improve public health nationally and internationally through the prevention and control of disease, disability, and death caused by foodborne, waterborne, and environmentally transmitted infections.


  • Prevent diseases caused by contaminated food, water, animal contact and fungi.
  • Slow the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance in fungi and bacteria.
  • Use surveillance systems to track foodborne, waterborne, and animal contact diseases.
  • Work with global health partners to fight foodborne, waterborne, and fungal diseases.

Why it matters

Changes in society, technology, our environment, and microorganisms themselves are affecting the occurrence and complexity of foodborne, waterborne, and fungal diseases.

  • In the 1980s, E. coli O157 first emerged and spread to contaminate a growing variety of foods.
  • Multiresistant Salmonella are a growing challenge to human and animal health.
  • Waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid, although virtually nonexistent in the United States, cause needless disability and death globally.
  • Fungal infections are common among immunocompromised patients and are difficult to diagnose and treat.
  • Infections of animals can spread to humans by direct contact and by less obvious routes.
  • Microbial adaptation is resulting in new—or previously unrecognized—pathogens.

Our work

We strive to better understand emerging, reemerging, drug-resistant, bacterial, parasitic, and fungal pathogens and how they make people sick. We do this with health departments, academic researchers, federal regulatory agencies, and partners around the world. We use this information to improve prevention, inform policy, and reduce health inequities.

  • Track foodborne illnesses to identify trends, risk factors, new drug resistance, and food sources.
  • Detect, investigate, and control foodborne outbreaks.
  • Identify new ways to reduce diarrheal diseases related to global water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Keep drinking water, swimming pools, lakes, and other water sources safe.
  • Detect, prevent, and control domestic and global fungal threats.


Portrait of Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH
Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH
Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
Robert Tauxe, DM, MPH, Director

Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH, serves as the director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases in CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.