International Order & Conflict

Controlling Epidemics: Use of Isolation Measures

Tools to control infectious disease outbreaks include medical and non-medical interventions. If
the disease-causing agent is a novel pathogen or medical
countermeasures (vaccines and drugs) are not available, immediate
public health measures, such as quarantine and isolation, may be
critical to mitigating the epidemic. Quarantine and isolation measures include voluntary and involuntary social distancing efforts. Past
examples of social distancing (the 1918 influenza outbreak), quarantine
(2003 SARS outbreak), and isolation (XDR-TB) offer examples of
strategies for preventing the spread of contagious disease. In
the context of a looming influenza pandemic and ongoing concern about
bioterrorism with novel agents, the use and effectiveness of these
non-pharmaceutical interventions must be revisited in the U.S. and internationally.

Dr. Donahue and Dr. Noji addressed international legal, strategic
and operational aspects of voluntary and mandated isolation measures. Mr. Hodge explored U.S.
laws and regulations regarding the historic and modern use of various
methods of quarantine and isolation to control disease outbreaks. Dr. Schoch-Spana discussed community responses and operational isolation measures at the community level.


Laura Donahue, J.D., Ph.D.

Stanford University


Monica Schoch-Spana, Ph.D.

UPMC Center for Biosecurity


James G. Hodges, Jr., J.D. LL.M.

Centers for Law and the Public’s Health

Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities

Eric Noji, M.D., M.P.H.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg

School of Public Health


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