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Chris Bartlett: expert in legionnaire’s disease and director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 29 November 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2928
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London, UK
  1. warrenpenny788{at}
Photo credit: Louise Bartlett

In January 1977 senior registrar Chris Bartlett arrived at a Portakabin in Colindale, north London, to start his new job. It was the unlikely headquarters of the new Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC). Its staff of three (Bartlett, director Spence Galbraith, and a secretary) were tasked with the colossal job of infectious disease control for England and Wales. Bartlett became its director in 1988, overseeing its rapid growth to more than 250 staff and several regional centres. He trained a new generation of epidemiologists and public health doctors, managed emerging diseases such as legionnaire’s disease and AIDS, and set up crucial training links with Europe.

Infectious disease control

With an expansion of air travel in the 1970s, the UK population was vulnerable to infectious agents from beyond its borders. In the 1970s the numbers of malaria cases in the UK increased rapidly, and authorities were worried that new diseases—such as Lassa fever in west Africa—might reach our shores. Against this backdrop, an unnerving outbreak of smallpox occurred in London …

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