June 17, 2009


Death of Former CDC Employee and noted Rabies Expert - George M. Baer, DVM, MPH

Dr. George Martin Baer, a former CDC employee in the Division of Viral & Rickettsial Diseases, died on June 2, 2009, in Mexico City, Mexico, at the age of 73. He was an eminent virologist, veterinarian, and public health scientist. Dr. Baer was born during 1936 in London, England. He grew up in New Rochelle, New York, where he became an accomplished equestrian, and began a lifelong love of animals. He attended Cornell University, where he obtained an undergraduate degree in agricultural sciences in 1954, and a degree in veterinary medicine in 1959. He earned a Master´s degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor during 1961. Thereafter, Dr. Baer started his career in public health with CDC via the EIS, and was assigned to the New York State Health Department in Albany, where he focused upon brucellosis, psittacosis, and rabies. In 1964, he worked at CDC’s Southwest Rabies Investigations Laboratory in Las Cruces New Mexico on bat rabies. During 1966 to 1969, he was a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization in Mexico. Based upon his efforts, he helped to lay the groundwork for Mexico’s public health programs against rabies, an effort he continued throughout the rest of his professional life. In 1969, he returned to Atlanta, and became head of the CDC Rabies Laboratory. With his team of researchers, he developed a method for the immunization of wildlife, for which he was credited as the “Father of Oral Rabies Vaccination”. His considerable expertise made him one of the foremost international experts in this arena. Of his more than 100 publications, his 1991 book, The Natural History of Rabies, remains a definitive reference in the field. After retirement from CDC, he founded a diagnostic laboratory in Mexico City, and was a member of the Mexican International Steering Committee for the Rabies in the Americas Conference. At the time of his death, he was working on a new vaccine for influenza, a timely project given the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus. Clearly, Dr. Baer acted from a deeply held belief in the power of preventive medicine, within the ‘one health’ concept to combat disease both in humans and other animals. He is survived by his wife, Maria Olga Baer, three daughters, Katherine Baer, of Washington, D.C., Alexandra Baer, of New Paltz, New York, and Isabella Baer, of Mexico City, and four granddaughters. Funeral services were held in Mexico City at the Iglesia de Santa Rosa de Lima on June 4, 2009.

The preceding was provided by Peter Costa, MPH, CHES, Global Communications Coordinator, Global Alliance for Rabies Control :

“We were all deeply saddened to hear of the death of Dr. George Baer on June 2, 2009.  We include the announcement about Dr. Baer’s death that was released from CDC [above].”