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Quarantine and Isolation

What does it mean to be quarantined? People who have been exposed to an infectious disease and may be infected but are not yet ill may be quarantined. That is, they may be asked to remain at home or another location to prevent further spread of illness to others and to carefully monitor for the disease.

During quarantine people are able to do most things they can do indoors within the constraints of the location they are at. For example, if people are asked to stay at home then they would usually be asked to take their own temperature and report daily to health authorities on how they are feeling. They are given instructions on what they can do and not do around family members and are informed of other disease precautions.

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If they are asked to stay in a place away from home they are provided with meals, sleeping accommodations, and other necessities. They would stay there until the risk of developing the disease or spreading the disease is over.

Another measure of disease control is called isolation. This is for individuals who are sick from the contagious disease. These individuals are kept separate from others -- or "isolated" -- usually within a health care facility or at home. Typically, the ill person will have his or her own room, and caretakers will take certain precautions such as wearing protective clothing.

Quarantine and isolation are usually undertaken voluntarily but in rare circumstances can be required by public health authorities.

These measures are implemented to contain and prevent the transmission of an infectious disease. It will last enough time for medical personnel to assess the situation or for the duration of the contagious period.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 09, 2012

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