Police Find Body Of Missing CDC Doctor In A River

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A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee who disappeared nearly two months ago under what officials called "an extremely unusual set of circumstances" has been found dead.

Fulton County Chief medical examiner Jan Gorniak determined the cause of death as drowning.

On Tuesday night, fishermen called 911 after discovering a body in the river.

"We have seen an increase in the number of newly diagnosed cases of hepatitis C related to injection drug use in people under the age of 30 over the past several years and have been concerned about the potential for HIV infection following a similar course", Dr. Al DeMaria of the state Department of Health said in a statement. The site where the body was found was not far from Cunningham's house, said Major Michael O'Connor of the Atlanta Police Dept.'s Major Crimes Section. He noted the body was found in an area that authorities had already searched in February without finding anything.

Cunningham reportedly called his sister the morning he was last seen.

Pending an unusual break in the case, O'Connor said that the case may be listed as inactive soon - possibly in a month's time.

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O'Connor addressed that rumor last month, noting that Cunningham was with the chronic disease unit and not the infectious disease unit. Officials with the CDC said he actually received an early promotion to Commander, effective July 1, which contradicted what was said during a police news conference.

11 Alive reports that the information the Atlanta Police received came directly from the CDC. Co-workers said that the day he left work, Cunningham had gotten news that he was passed over for a new position and was upset about it.

With more than 16 years of experience in public health, he'd co-authored 28 publications on topics ranging from sleep deprivation to pulmonary disease, with a special focus on how health issues affect minorities.

Almost two weeks later, the CDC said that information was untrue.

Friends said Cunningham was smart and caring, with a big grin and big hugs to match. "I can't tell you that he was jogging but those things together seem to indicate that that is a possibility". He held two degrees from Harvard University.

Gorniak added that the condition of Cunningham's body is "consistent" with having been in the water since the day he went missing and there were no signs of trauma or underlying medical conditions.

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