Medical examiner releases CDC doctor Timothy Cunningham's official cause of death


The death of a CDC employee whose body was found in an Atlanta river last month has been ruled a suicide by drowning, the Fulton County Medical Examiner announced on Tuesday.

The body of 35-year-old Timothy Cunningham was found by fishermen in the Chattahoochee River on April 3, bringing the long and confounding search for the missing CDC worker to a tragic end. His body was discovered over seven weeks after he disappeared on Feb. 12.

An autopsy at the time confirmed that the body belonged to the missing doctor, though his official cause of death was not released until today.

Photos of Cunningham:

Cunningham, a highly regarded epidemiologist at the CDC, disappeared without a trace after he left work mid-day in February, complaining of feeling ill.

After Cunningham failed to report to work or contact his family for two days following his disappearance, his parents, Terrell and Tia-Juana Cunningham, drove down to Georgia from their house in Maryland to check on their son.

When they arrived at his Atlanta home on Feb. 14, the couple found their son's phone, keys, wallet, car and dog, with no trace of him in sight.

The unusual circumstances surrounding Cunningham's disappearance baffled authorities for weeks until his remains were discovered.


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The outbreak last month was the latest in a series of food safety lapses at the burrito chain, and health officials said it was caused by the clostridium perfringens bacterium, which often infects food that is prepared in large quantities and kept warm for a long time. The resulting illnesses are fairly common and affect nearly 1 million people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Customers had last month complained of food poisoning and diarrhea after eating tacos and burrito bowls at the Powell, Ohio Chipotle restaurant.

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