Medical Specialties: Infectious disease, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

Quarantine is a public health practice that involves imposing separation and the restriction of movement on a person who may have a communicable disease. It is done to prevent the transmission of a contagious disease. A quarantine can also be imposed on someone who has been exposed to a contagious disease to determine if he will become ill. 

In Our Own Words

While isolation involves separating someone who has a contagious illness from others, quarantine restricts the movement of people who are not ill but perhaps have been exposed. It is done in order to prevent the spread of a contagious disease. An individual or group that was exposed to a contagious disease, but is not yet sick may be quarantined. The quarantine is in effect to determine if illness develops. It is done as a precaution and can be useful in preventing the spread of serious public health threats. 

Relevant Conditions
  • Infectious tuberculosis
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers
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  • New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. "Public Health Fact Sheet Isolation and Quarantine." http://www.nj.gov. Accessed November 2013.
  • American Medical Association. "The Use of Quarantine and Isolation as Public Health Interventions." http://www.ama-assn.org//ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion225.page. Accessed November 2013.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "About Quarantine and Isolation." http://www.cdc.gov/quarantine. Accessed November 2013.
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