Tag Archives: Centers for Disease Control

Search Continues for Missing CDC Official

Atlanta, GA — A family is turning to the public for help following the disappearance of Timothy Cunningham, 35, an epidemiologist at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who left work after complaining of feeling ill on February 12 and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Cunningham, a graduate of of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was recently promoted to commander in the Public Health Service, and was responsible for responding to and supervising public health emergencies including the Ebola virus and the Zika virus. A statement from the CDC called Cunningham “a highly respected member of our CDC family.”

After failing to show up for work on February 13, his parents Terrell and Tia-Juana Cunningham were reportedly unable to get in contact with him and drove from their home in Maryland to Cunningham’s home in Atlanta on the morning of February 14, according to The New York Times. Upon their arrival, his parents found the house and the garage were locked and two windows were open, according to the Times.

After gaining entry to Cunningham’s home, his parents found his car, phone, wallet were located at the house; the two immediately contacted the police, ABC affiliate WSB in Atlanta reported.

“It’s not the type of news you want to hear,” Terrell Cunningham said. “Thirty-five years old, but always your child.”

“This is an appeal to the public,” he also said. “We’re seeking your help in bringing Tim back safe to us.”

Cunningham’s family said that he maintains a very close relationship with them and noted this is unusual behavior for him, as they said he would never leave without keeping in contact or making sure his dog was cared for.

“My first mind is that something has happened, especially considering the length of time he’s been gone” Timothy’s brother, Anterio Cunningham, told Fox 5. “Not having his phone, leaving his dog, Bo, alone, he just wouldn’t voluntarily check out like that. Tim is the consummate professional. He loves his job. He wouldn’t just cast it aside. He’s worked hard to get where he is.”

“We just hope he will just come home safely. None of this makes sense. He wouldn’t just evaporate like this and leave his dog alone and have our mother wondering and worrying like this. He wouldn’t,” Anterio Cunningham also said.

The New York Times reports that Cunningham’s sister, Tiara Cunningham, said her brother sounded “not like himself” in a phone call on the day he left work sick, while Timothy’s father said he felt uncomfortable after his last conversation with him as well, noting a “tone” that left him “concerned about Tim.”

The CDC said, “Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time.”

Fox 5 reported that the Cunningham family has joined with Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta and are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest and indictment in this case.

Atlanta Police said they have no specific evidence of foul play, but are looking into all possible leads. Anyone with information is advised to call 911 or the Atlanta Police Homicide/Adult Missing Persons Unit at (404) 546-4235.

U.S. Ignores the CDC’s Advice on Ebola Prevention, Spends Over $39 Million on Less Important Programs

In the midst of the current Ebola outbreak, the United States is scrambling to find answers. Despite previous advice to fund centers that would monitor and contain possible outbreaks of the virus in other countries, and despite the current need for a vaccine, the U.S. is pouring over $39 million into other programs that appear insignificant in comparison to the Ebola virus.

The Washington Times reported that in 2008, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggested that the Obama administration “establish 18 regional disease detection centers around the world to adequately safeguard the U.S. from emerging health threats like Ebola.”

However, in 2014, the CDC has only 10 centers, none of which are in West Africa, the home to the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus.

In a previous memo from the CDC to the Obama transition team, the CDC described a plan that focused on being proactive, and using their disease detection centers to monitor “threats in hotspots overseas,” before they were able to spread to the United States.

The existing centers have already proven their effectiveness and impact on detecting and responding to outbreaks including avian influenza, aflatoxin poisoning, Rift Valley fever, Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks,” said the memo.

As previously reported, a recent audit of the United States Department of Homeland Security showed that if a potential pandemic were to occur, the U.S. would be “ill-prepared.” In addition to lacking the supplies needed to combat deadly viruses, such as Ebola, the United States has also not yet developed a vaccine.

The debate over how much money should be devoted to finding a cure for Ebola has ignited controversy among U.S. lawmakers. According to the Washington Times, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has lost $1.2 billion in funding over the last four years. Francis Collins, the Director of NIH, attributes the agency’s lack of vaccine to the budget cuts.

Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” Collins said.

However, the Washington Free Beacon reported that it has “uncovered $39,643,352 worth of NIH studies within the past several years that have gone to questionable research.

Instead of pouring money into a vaccine for Ebola, in 2014 NIH added an additional $670,567 to a study that seeks to find out why the majority of lesbians are obese, which now has a total price tag of $2,873,440.

The institute also devoted $2,075,611 to a program that promotes community choir for the elderly, and it continues to sponsor a number of studies that test the power of “text message interventions.”

One study, which has received $674,590, involves researchers sending text messages to drunk individuals at bars, in an attempt to get them to stop drinking. Another study involved researchers sending text messages to individuals who are considered obese, and encouraging them to lose weight. It has received $2,707,067 in funding.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that, although Health and Human Services will receive $8.6 million to research and test a possible vaccine for Ebola, they are only receiving “a fraction of NIH funding,” when compared to other programs.