Local quarantine regulations are also in effect to guard against the spread of communicable disease. Public health laws require that physicians report certain infections to the authorities. The patients (and those who have come in contact with them) may be isolated and their effects disinfected, condemned, or destroyed, if it is in the public interest, since quarantine laws supersede even property rights. Although antibiotics, vaccinations, and other treatments have greatly reduced the use of quarantine in public health, persons with newly recognized or hard to treat communicable diseases may still be isolated by health officials. For example, quarantine was used effectively to control the spread of SARS in 2003, and a variety of quarantine measures, including isolation at home of infected but not seriously ill patients and state- or nationwide stay-at-home orders and closures of nonessential businesses, were widely used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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