On July 1, 1946, the Communicable Disease Center was founded. It is still called the CDC but its full name is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency was established the year after World War II ended, descended from the wartime agency, Malaria Control in War Areas and was part of the United States Public Health Service.
The CDC began on the sixth floor of the Volunteer Building on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, hundreds of miles from Washington, D.C., because its initial mission to combat malaria in the South. During the first year of operations, 59% of CDC’s personnel were engaged in the malaria eradication effort.
DDT, available since 1943, was the CDC’s primary weapon against malaria, and the agency’s early challenges included obtaining enough trucks, sprayers and shovels necessary to wage the war on mosquitoes. Over
6.5 million homes were sprayed. DDT was banned by the EPA in the 1970s because of its severe environmental harm.
In 1947, the CDC made a token payment of $10 to Emory University for 15 acres on Clifton Road in Atlanta, where its headquarters are today.
In recent years, the staff has about 22,000 employees and contractors in 171 occupations. The agency says 40% of its employees have master’s degrees, 25% have Ph.Ds. and 10% are medical doctors.
A few highlights of the organization’s history include:
Control of malaria, typhus, polio, and cholera epidemics
Closing in on the eradication of smallpox
Closing in on the possible eradication of polio
Combating malarial transmission in the U.S., MERS and Enterovirus-D68 outbreaks
Management of antibiotic-resistant infections, birth defects and a number of chronic diseases
Fighting the battle against Ebola in West Africa
Disease detectives continuing to combat new pathogens like the Zika virus and COVID-19
CDC headquarters in Atlanta