Other Diseases Did Not Rest During COVID-19

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Protecting Health in 2020. NCEZID Progress Report.

The COVID-19 response is the largest in CDC history. But the virus that causes COVID-19 wasn’t the only infectious disease that CDC responded to last year. Diseases like those caused by the Marburg virus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria didn’t go away because of the pandemic.

The National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) deployed 1,736 staff who devoted 1.35 million hours to the COVID-19 response in 2020. At the same time, the center worked to protect people in other important areas. NCEZID details its activities in the Protecting Health in 2020 NCEZID Progress Report.

The COVID-19 response

The magnitude of CDC’s COVID-19 response was reflected in last year’s raw data. People viewed CDC’s COVID-19 webpages over 2.3 billion times. They used the Coronavirus Self-Checker over 40 million times.

About 1,500 staff, including members of NCEZID, deployed nearly 3,000 times to about 250 cities in the United States and other countries. NCEZID also set records in the amount of funding it awarded. It gave $11 billion to 64 public health departments to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

An NCEZID lab ran 6,417 pathology tests to study COVID-19’s damage on a cellular level. The Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program built a national network of more than 600 scientists to track COVID-19’s spread using genetic data while keeping track of new variants.

Over the course of years, NCEZID successfully encouraged 90 percent of U.S. health departments to switch to electronic laboratory reporting. This has paid off during the pandemic response by enabling health departments to send more COVID-19 testing and other data more quickly to CDC.

Other threats

Scientists think that the virus that causes COVID-19 likely circulated in bats before making its way to humans. NCEZID scientists monitor bats for emerging disease threats. Last year, they found an especially deadly strain of Marburg virus circulating in fruit bats in Sierra Leone. Marburg virus disease causes hemorrhaging and other Ebola-like symptoms but is often deadlier than Ebola.

Melioidosis, a life-threatening bacterial disease, infected a few people in the United States last year. Catching it in the country is unusual. Infected people usually get the disease on trips abroad. NCEZID researchers found evidence that melioidosis could be an emerging threat in the U.S.

Other researchers used genetic sequencing data to explore why gastric cancer caused by bacteria afflict Alaskan Native people more than other people.

Years of public health and healthcare measures have reduced infections with antibiotic-resistant germs, but they are still a threat. CDC is spearheading an action plan in communities where infections are on the rise.

The threat of Ebola typifies NCEZID’s dual mission of preparing for and responding to disease threats. Last year, two outbreaks were declared over. Now, two new outbreaks threaten two African countries. Experience gained in last year’s responses will help prepare this year’s Ebola responses.


NCEZID is one of the national centers, institutes, and offices that together make up CDC. NCEZID protects people from domestic and global health threats, including:

  • Foodborne and waterborne illnesses
  • Infections that spread in hospitals
  • 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
  • Diseases spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas

NCEZID has led efforts to prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Its staff includes subject matter experts in bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens and infectious diseases of unknown origin.


Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

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5 comments on “Other Diseases Did Not Rest During COVID-19”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    I was interested in this blog due to the title. I don’t know how many people I have reassured that were worried they had COVID-19, that it was likely something else because other diseases were still out there. While I had learned of zoonotic diseases and what they were, I was unaware of how many others there were.
    I also appreciated all of the information about the NCEZID and what their mission is. I believe in this world, that will be an increasingly crucial purpose going forward.

    First and foremost, thank you to all of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) researchers and volunteers for the hard work and dedication to keeping us up to date on the diseases around the world. This blog is a great reminder that even though there is a pandemic going on, there are still many other forms of viruses and bacteria that can still be just as deadly. As a nurse who was working in a busy level two trauma center during this pandemic, I have seen many physicians and staff jump to the conclusion of COVID without testing, due to exposure and related symptoms. However, we should still rule out the flu, strep, and other viruses or bacteria that may cause like symptoms. We can not forget that there are other diseases out there just because we have a current pandemic. It is interesting to read about other threats that have made their way into the U.S such as “Melioidosis” since COVID started. It is surprising even with the travel restrictions it has still made its way here.
    Great blog, and thank you! – Celina RN

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Page last reviewed: March 12, 2021
Page last updated: March 12, 2021