Centers for Disease Control and Prevention timeline


  • 1946 – The Communicable Disease Center is organized in Atlanta, Georgia on July 1
  • 1947 – In San Francisco, CDC took over the Public Health Service Plague Laboratory, thus acquiring an Epidemiology Division.
  • 1948 – CDC gained worldwide recognition for the quality and quantity of its contributions to the taxonomy of the Enterobacteriaceae.
  • 1949 – As a result of the Cold War, CDC initiated programs to fight biological warfare, "an exotic new threat to health."


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



  • 1970 – The Communicable Disease Center became the Center for Disease Control.
  • 1971 – The National Center for Health Statistics conducted the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, taking a snapshot of the health status of Americans.
  • 1972 – Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male was brought to public attention.
  • 1973 – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reported that emissions of lead in residential areas constitute a public health threat, contrary to popular assumption at the time.
  • 1974 – CDC planned a major campaign to reverse the downward trend in the number of Americans immunized.
  • 1975 – The last victim of variola major smallpox, the more severe form of the disease, was reported.
  • 1976 – CDC investigated two outbreaks of a previously unknown deadly hemorrhagic fever, later known as Ebola, in Zaire and Sudan.
  • 1977 – Global eradication of smallpox was achieved.
  • 1978 – Alcorn County, Mississippi, reported cases of the first outbreak of tuberculosis resistance to previously effective drugs.
  • 1979 – First Healthy People report published.


  • 1980 – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published the first report on the newly recognized toxic shock syndrome, an illness associated with tampon use.
  • 1981 – The first diagnosis of the fatal disease later known as AIDS was described in the June 5, 1981, issue of MMWR.
  • 1982 – CDC advised of the possible risk of Reye syndrome associated with the use of aspirin by children with chickenpox and flu-like symptoms.
  • 1983 – CDC established a Violence Epidemiology Branch to apply public health prevention strategies to child abuse, homicide, and suicide.
  • 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.
  • 1985 – With other government organizations, CDC sponsored the first International AIDS Conference, which took place in Atlanta.
  • 1986 – The Office on Smoking and Health, which targets the nation's primary preventable health problem, became part of CDC.
  • 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.
  • 1988 – CDC established the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  • 1989 – CDC reported the 100,000th AIDS case in the United States.


  • 1990 – For the first time, CDC reported the possible transmission of HIV from a dentist to a patient in Florida during an invasive procedure.
  • 1991 – A CDC study showed that one in five teen deaths is gun-related, and firearm death rates for male teens exceeded those for all natural causes of death.
  • 1992 – The National Academy of Sciences reported on a dangerous new phenomenon: the emergence of new and virulent diseases that are resistant to antibiotics.
  • 1993 – CDC reported that 200,000 Americans had died of AIDS since the epidemic began.
  • 1994 – CDC published a frank brochure on how condoms reduce the transmission of the AIDS virus.
  • 1995 – CDC recommended offering HIV testing to all pregnant women.
  • 1996 – CDC, in partnership with the International Society for Travel Medicine, initiated the GeoSentinel surveillance network to improve travel medicine.
  • 1997 – CDC participated in the nationally televised White House event of the Presidential Apology for the Tuskegee Study.
  • 1998 – For the first time since 1981, AIDS was diagnosed in more African-American and Hispanic men than in gay white men.
  • 1999 – CDC's Laboratory Response Network was established.


  • 2000 – CDC identified an outbreak of HIV-related tuberculosis among young transgender people in New York and Boston.
  • 2001 – CDC learned of the first of the 2001 anthrax attacks.
  • 2002 – CDC reported that U.S. newborn HIV infections were down 80 percent since 1981.
  • 2003 – Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was first reported in Asia. CDC provided guidance for surveillance, clinical and laboratory evaluation, and reporting.
  • 2004 – CDC provided support for laws restricting access to over-the-counter medications used in methamphetamine production in Georgia.
  • 2005 – Rubella was eliminated in the United States.
  • 2006 – CDC celebrates its 60th anniversary.


  • 2013 – CDC releases first report to categorize threats by hazard level.[1]