New CDC head: Georgia's health commissioner

Story highlights

  • The Georgia health commissioner, an obstetrician-gynecologist, has been appointed to head the CDC
  • She advocated for early vaccination, combated childhood obesity and ran for a seat in Congress

(CNN)The Georgia health commissioner, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, has been selected as the new director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Having known Dr. Fitzgerald for many years, I know that she has a deep appreciation and understanding of medicine, public health, policy and leadership," said a statement from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who nominated Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, an obstetrician-gynecologist, was appointed to lead the Georgia Department of Public Health in 2011 by Gov. Nathan Deal. While there, she oversaw programs to combat childhood obesity, increase vaccination rates and track Alzheimer's and dementia, according to the department.
    Her tenure as health commissioner was also marked by several high-profile cases of Americans infected with the Ebola virus, who were flown to Atlanta for treatment.
    "Ebola was arriving in our own backyard in Atlanta, and with it came the fears," Fitzgerald wrote in the Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association. "The fiction and distorted truths about Ebola were spreading faster than the disease itself -- and farther."
    Under her stewardship, the Department of Public Health developed a plan for monitoring and testing people who risked being exposed to the virus. The department also sought to provide information on Ebola to the public. However, confusion emerged when Deal claimed that water killed the Ebola virus -- an incorrect statement he attributed to Fitzgerald, who advocated for handwashing.
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