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How does Quarantine Stop the Spread of New Pathogens?

, How does Quarantine Stop the Spread of New Pathogens?

Given the seemingly endless Hollywood fascination with zombies in recent years (as well as the oft-repeated viral origin for the undead themselves), there is an undercurrent of interest in pathology running through the American public. In the zombie movies, the quarantines always seem to fail, and doctors are left speechless. How do quarantines actually work? When are they deemed necessary, and what chances do modern quarantine protocols have at stopping the next world pandemic?

First, it’s necessary to understand that quarantine is a series of procedures to separate healthy people who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, as well as restrict their movement. Isolation, on the other hand, involves the separation of ill people from the healthy, as in the case of modern tuberculosis patients, who are often separated from the general population at a hospital. Isolation and quarantine are primarily used to prevent communicable diseases from infecting more people. These procedures can have the ancillary benefit of helping medical research scientists study the effects of communicable diseases in a relatively safe environment.

As one might imagine, the legislation surrounding quarantine is complex, with many precautions in place to prevent abuse or misdirected diagnosis. At its most fundamental level, the legality of quarantine derives from the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which authorizes the US Secretary of Health and Human Services to take necessary measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, regardless of whether the contagion originates domestically or abroad. There are also special protocols in place to address the importation of non-human primates, birds, and other potential contagion sources that have demonstrated the capacity to infect human beings.

Despite the rational basis for quarantine, the actual procedure may cause a good deal of civil unrest. This is due to its means of implementation: preventing the uncontrolled spread of a communicable disease may require large swaths of healthy people to be placed under severe movement restrictions. Understandably, healthy people may object to having their movement compromised, but medical professionals do not draw quarantine lines lightly. Often, the quarantine may be larger than what seems practically necessary to the untrained eye—this is due to the likelihood of communicable disease spreading with enormous speed in our present global society. The Centers for Disease Control in the United States and the World Health Organization satellite facilities are constantly on the lookout for the next world pandemic, as well as new methodologies that will reduce the likelihood of implementing quarantine protocols without accurate information.

So What do you feel about the quarantine stop of spread of the new pathogens

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