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, 19 (2), 254-9

Lessons From the History of Quarantine, From Plague to Influenza A

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Lessons From the History of Quarantine, From Plague to Influenza A

Eugenia Tognotti. Emerg Infect Dis.

Abstract

In the new millennium, the centuries-old strategy of quarantine is becoming a powerful component of the public health response to emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. During the 2003 pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, the use of quarantine, border controls, contact tracing, and surveillance proved effective in containing the global threat in just over 3 months. For centuries, these practices have been the cornerstone of organized responses to infectious disease outbreaks. However, the use of quarantine and other measures for controlling epidemic diseases has always been controversial because such strategies raise political, ethical, and socioeconomic issues and require a careful balance between public interest and individual rights. In a globalized world that is becoming ever more vulnerable to communicable diseases, a historical perspective can help clarify the use and implications of a still-valid public health strategy.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Disinfecting clothing. France–Italy border during the cholera epidemic of 1865–1866. (Photograph in the author's possession).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Quarantine. The female dormitory. France–Italy border during the cholera epidemic of 1865–1866. (Photograph in the author's possession).
Figure 3
Figure 3
The control of travelers from cholera-affected countries, who were arriving by land at the France–Italy border during the cholera epidemic of 1865–1866. (Photograph in the author's possession).

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