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There is much discussion in the news regarding the use of Quarantine as a measure to protect the public’s health. Quarantine is defined as the restriction of movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. View the CDC Quarantine webpage. By definition, people placed in quarantine are not ill. If an individual does become ill while in quarantine, they are then provided medical treatment, as appropriate for the disease. Sometimes they can be treated at home, and sometimes they will require hospitalization, it depends on the disease.
In New Jersey, a licensed Health Officer has the authority to establish quarantine measures as necessary to control the spread of disease (NJAC 8:57-1.11).
Due to the availability of effective vaccines and antibiotic medication today, quarantine is a control measure that is not used as frequently as it was when vaccines and medications did not exist to control the spread of disease in a community. In certain circumstances, public health authorities will use the quarantine to protect the community's health. For example, between the years 2012-2014, the Hunterdon County Division of Public Health ordered for the quarantine of 14 residents due to measles exposure. The residents were not vaccinated against measles and were susceptible to a highly communicable disease. Since full vaccination against measles is not complete until age 5, the quarantined individuals could have spread illness to under-vaccinated children in the community. The quarantines were effective as there was zero disease transmission to the community.
Wash your hands.