Who We Are
The National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases is committed to protecting people from domestic and global health threats, including
- Foodborne illnesses like Salmonella and waterborne illnesses like infections with Naegleria fowleri (the “brain-eating” amoeba).
- Infections that spread in hospitals and other healthcare settings.
- Infections that are resistant to antibiotics.
- Deadly diseases like Ebola and anthrax.
- Illnesses that affect immigrants, migrants, refugees, and travelers.
- Diseases caused by contact with animals, like rabies.
- Diseases spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, including yellow fever, Lyme disease, and dengue.
- Diseases new to the United States, like Zika and mpox.
NCEZID’s scientists also do important work that leads to the development of more effective vaccines, therapeutic drugs, and tools to diagnose lesser-known diseases like Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus infections.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, several flagship NCEZID programs—like the Office of Advanced Molecular Detection, the Laboratory Response Network, and the National Healthcare Safety Network—were essential to tracking COVID variants as they emerged across the country, monitoring the quality of healthcare and patient safety, and strengthening efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To learn more, read about NCEZID’s 2021 Accomplishments.
Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by germs (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that enter the body, multiply, and can cause an infection.
- Some infectious diseases are contagious (or communicable), meaning they are capable of spreading from one person to another.
- Other infectious diseases can be spread by germs carried in air, water, food, or soil. They can also be spread by vectors (like biting insects) or by animals to humans.
Emerging means infections that have increased recently or are threatening to increase in the near future. These infections could be
- completely new (like Bourbon virus infection, or MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
- completely new to an area (like chikungunya in Florida).
- reappearing in an area (like dengue in south Florida and Texas).
- caused by bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics, like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), C. difficile, or drug-resistant TB.
Zoonotic means a disease that is spread between animals and people; some examples include:
- Lyme disease (spread by ticks).
- Salmonella (spread by poultry).
- rabies (spread by mammals).