Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 23 >> Puvis De Chavannes to Radium Therapy >> Quarantine

Quarantine

act, board, united, contagious, infected, cholera and suspected

QUARANTINE a stated period (for merly 40 days) during which a ship coming from a port suspected of contagion, or having a contagious sickness on board, is forbidden in tercourse with the place at which it arrives. Quarantine was' first introduced at Venice in the 14th century, is now required in almost every important country except Great Britain. In the United States quarantine enactments were passed by the colonial legislatures and -afterward for many years by the States. The first national quarantine act was passed 23 Feb. 1799, requiring Federal officers to aid in the ex ecution of State or municipal quarantine regula tions On 29 April 1878, a national quarantine act was paned. On 3 March 1883, $100,000 was appropriated for maintaining quarantine points along the coast. On 1 Sept. 1892, owing to the presence of cholera, President Harrison proclaimed a 20 days' quarantine of New York. -By law it is made a misdemeanor punishable by -fine or imprisonment, or both, for the master, pilot•or owner of any vessel entering a port of the United States iti violation of the act, or regulations framed under it. During the period of quarantine, all the goods, clothing, etc., that might be supposed capable of retaining infection are subjected to a process of disinfection, which is a most important part of the quarantine system.

From 7 Nov. 1896, the system of quarantine ceased to exist in Great Britain, so far as re gards the British Islands. The Quarantine Act of 1825 required that quarantine should be im posed on all vessels coming to the British Islands from places from which ((the plague or other infectious disease or distemper highly dangerous to the health of his Majesty's sub jects)) might be brought; but in recent years this act has applied only to the plague and yel low fever, and has not often been used Vessels arriving from infected places or carrying goods, etc., from such places, were required to be kept at some safe distance from the shore and from other ships — all their passengers and crew be ing detained on board — until all danger of spreading_ was considered to have passed. ealthy persons were thus exposed to the risk of taking any disease there might be on the ship.

In some places quarantine establishments were maintained for receiving persons from suspected vessels, but most of these were long since abolished, and latterly the only receiv ing ships were some old hulks at the Mother bank in the Solent. These were maintained

by the Privy Council, on whom devolved the administration of the Quarantine Acts. Orders in Council prescribed the system of quarantine. By the Public Health Act of 1875, the defense of the country against cholera was placed in the hands of the Local Government Board, and regulations were issued by that board for the purpose. Instead of quarantining the entire crew of an infected or suspected vessel, the method adopted consisted in the medical inspection of the persons on board, and the separation and detention of those who were suffering from cholera or who were suspected of being infected. All others were permitted to leave the ship, but were traced and' watched by the local authorities. Infected articles on board were to be disinfected or destroyed.

Quarantine has long been considered in effective against the introduction of disease, besides being a source of much danger to those who were compulsorily detained under the sys tem. The sanitary ideas of our day favor the less showy but safer methods long used in Eng land in case of cholera.

In the United States under the law of 28 March 1890, known as the Interstate Quarantine Act,, the supervising surgeon-general of the Marine Hospital Service is charged with pre paring the rules and re eons,, under direc Aion of the Secretary of re, necessary to prevent the introduction of certain contagious diseases from one State to another, and he has also supervision of the medical inspection of alien immigrants, which under the law of 3 March 1891 is conducted by the medical officers of the Marine Hospital Service. Under the Aot of 15 Feb. 1893, he is charged with the framing of regulations for the prevention of the intro duction of contagious diseases and the preven tion of their spread, and he is also charged witli the conduct. of the quarantine service of the United States. He has the direction of labora tories established to investigate the cause of contagious diseases, and publishes each week, under the •title of 'Public Health Reports,) sanitary reports received from all parts of the United States and (through the State Depart ment) from all foreign countries. Consult 'Quarantine in the Maritime Cities of the United States,) New York Acad. of Med. (1913).