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 Post subject: Will the government quarantine people in a pandemic?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 8:24 pm 
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ABC TV Movie: Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America
On Tuesday, May 9 at 8 p.m., the ABC television network aired a made-for-TV movie titled "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America." The movie follows an outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu virus from its origins in a Hong Kong market through its mutation into a pandemic virus that becomes easily transmittable from human to human and spreads rapidly around the world.

The Department of Health and Human Services prepared a Viewer's Guide and some anticipated Questions and Answers to provide factual information for viewers of the movie. NOTE: To See full range of questions, go to link listed above).

Many neighborhoods were quarantined in the film. Even the Governor of Virginia quarantined himself, his staff and his family from the rest of the world. Will the government quarantine people in a pandemic?

The purpose of quarantine is to separate people who have been potentially exposed to a contagious disease and may be infected but are not yet ill to stop the spread of that disease. The last large-scale quarantine measures that were imposed in this country were used in the early 20th century to contain outbreaks of plague, yellow fever, and smallpox.

Today, quarantine typically refers to confining potentially infected persons to their homes or community-based facilities, usually on a voluntary basis. Quarantine can be used for a defined group of people who may have been exposed at a public gathering, or who may have been exposed while traveling, particularly overseas. In extreme cases, quarantine could apply to an entire geographic area, in which case a community may be closed off by sealing its borders or by a barricade, known as a "cordon sanitaire".

In the case of pandemic influenza, quarantine may be one of the public health tools employed in the early days of an emerging pandemic if efforts are undertaken to contain the outbreak before it spreads too widely. Once a pandemic has begun to spread, quarantine is not likely to be effective in controlling the spread, and instead efforts may turn to "social distancing." Social distancing includes measures to increase distance between individuals, such as staying home when ill unless seeking medical care, avoiding large gatherings, telecommuting, and school closures.

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