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(kwŏr`əntēn), isolation of persons, animals, places, and effects that carry or are suspected of harboring communicable disease. The term originally referred to the 40 days of offshore wait during which incoming vessels could not discharge passengers or cargo in the era when plagueplague,
any contagious, malignant, epidemic disease, in particular the bubonic plague and the black plague (or Black Death), both forms of the same infection. These acute febrile diseases are caused by Yersinia pestis (Pasteurella pestis
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 and other great epidemics swept across Europe. The practice has been changed by developments in medical science. Usually the word of the ship's officer that the passengers are free of disease and presentation by the passengers of certificates of inoculation against certain diseases are now sufficient to permit passage of travelers from one country to another. Some nations still maintain extended periods of quarantine for cattle and household pets coming from another country to guard against such diseases as foot-and-mouth disease and rabies. Plant life may also be held for assurance that fungus and other plant diseases are not being introduced.

Local quarantine regulations are also in effect to guard against the spread of communicable disease. Public health laws require that physicians report certain infections to the authorities. The patients (and those who have come in contact with them) may be isolated and their effects disinfected, condemned, or destroyed, if it is in the public interest, since quarantine laws supersede even property rights. Although antibiotics, vaccinations, and other treatments have greatly reduced the use of quarantine in public health, persons with newly recognized or hard to treat communicable diseases may still be isolated by health officials. For example, quarantine was used effectively to control the spread of SARSSARS
or severe acute respiratory syndrome,
communicable viral disease that can progress to a potentially fatal pneumonia. The first symptoms of SARS are usually a high fever, headache and body aches, sore throat, and mild respiratory symptoms; diarrhea may occur.
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 in 2003, and a variety of quarantine measures, including isolation at home of infected but not seriously ill patients and state- or nationwide stay-at-home orders and closures of nonessential businesses, were widely used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an antiepidemic measure that consists of isolating persons who are ill or suspected of being ill with an infectious disease for the purpose of preventing further spread of the disease.

Patients may be quarantined either in inpatient treatment centers (hospitalization) or at home. In the USSR obligatory hospitalization is required of persons suspected of or diagnosed as having plague, cholera, smallpox, typhus, relapsing fever, thyphoid, paratyphoid, dysentery, viral hepatitis, and diphtheria. Patients are transported to the hospital by special sanitary means. Patients with influenza, measles, whooping cough, and certain other infectious diseases may be isolated at home if there is a separate room, qualified care, and continual disinfection of the premises. In sanatoriums, rest homes, children’s convalescent institutions, kindergartens, and nurseries and in the noninfectious sections (therapeutic, surgical, pediatric) of hospitals, special isolation wards are equipped for quarantine patients. Persons who have contacted patients ill with highly dangerous infections (plague, cholera, smallpox) are also quarantined for a period equal to the incubation period of the given disease. Partial isolation for various periods is practiced for patients with other infectious diseases.


Diseased animals are quarantined for purposes of the prevention, control, and elimination of infectious diseases. Animals that are diseased, suspected of being diseased, and, in some cases, suspected of being carriers of infection are quarantined. It is important that diseased animals be quarantined in time. The animals are transferred to a specially equipped isolation ward. Animals that are clearly diseased may be quarantined in groups, whereas those only suspected of disease must be quarantined individually. The strictness of the quarantine depends on the degree of infectiousness of the disease. Quarantine of animals suffering from foot-and-mouth disease, anthrax, and certain other diseases is obligatory.

Table 1. Periods of quarantine for patients with the most common infectious diseases
Typhoid and paratyphoidsFor those treated with antibiotics, up to 23 days after a return to normal temperature. Workers in the food industry, water supply, public nutrition, children’s institutions, and hospitals are allowed to work 30 days after discharge from a medical institution if the results of bacteriological tests of urine and stool prove negative three times and the duodenal contents test negative once.
Bacterial dysenteryUntil clinical recovery and three negative bacteriological tests of stool (at one- or two-day intervals). Workers in the food industry, water supply, public nutrition, hospitals, and children’s institutions are discharged after rectoromanoscopy and three negative results to bacteriological tests of stool.
Viral hepatitisUntil clinical recovery, but not less than 21 days from the appearance of jaundice or 30 days from the onset of the disease
Poliomyelitis40 days
Typhus12 days after the fall of temperature
TularemiaUntil recovery
DiphtheriaUntil recovery, after two negative results to bacteriological tests of the discharge of throat and nose (with a three-day interval)
MeaslesFive days from the appearance of the rash
Whooping cough40 days from the onset of the illness or 30 days after the appearance of the convulsive cough
Scarlet fever21 days from the onset of the disease (in the absence of complications, 15 days)
Chicken poxSeven days from the appearance of the rash
MumpsNine days from the onset of the disease



a system of measures taken both to prevent the spread of infectious diseases from an epidemic focus and to eliminate the focus itself.

Quarantine was first introduced in Italy in the 14th century in the form of a 40-day detention (hence the name) in port of ships arriving from places affected with plague; later it was used to control other infectious diseases as well. The first international attempts at quarantine measures to control the spread of plague, cholera, yellow fever, and smallpox (called quarantine diseases) were undertaken in the 19th century. The first international conference to work out these measures was held in Paris in 1851. Present-day quarantine measures are regulated by international health rules adopted by the fourth session of the World Health Organization in 1951 (revised in 1956 and 1957). The Rules for the Sanitation and Protection of the Territory of the USSR Against the Importation and Spread of Quarantine and Other Infectious Diseases, issued by the Ministry of Health of the USSR in 1967, regulate the measures taken to control the spread of the quarantine diseases: plague, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, malaria, anthrax, brucellosis, foot-and-mouth disease, glanders, melioidosis, psittacosis, and rabies.

Two types of quarantine measures are used to protect the USSR: (1) administrative (prohibiting individuals refusing to meet the requirements of the medical border service from entering or leaving the USSR; banning the receipt of packages from countries affected with certain quarantine diseases; temporary closure of the borders) and (2) medical (examination by health officers and physicians of passengers crossing the frontiers of the USSR; isolation of sick persons; observation of individuals who have come in contact with sick persons).

Homes, multiple-dwelling units, ships, military units, trains carrying livestock or produce, population centers, and entire regions may be placed under quarantine. In addition to the measures already mentioned, to prevent infectious diseases from spreading within the country quarantine involves banning the admission to school and other children’s institutions of carriers of infection and persons coming in contact with infected patients, detecting and isolating patients and bacilli carriers, and such sanitary measures as fumigation, disinfection, and immuniza-tion.


The use of quarantine in veterinary medicine is helpful in preventing the spread of infectious diseases among animals. It is imposed upon the appearance of diseases that tend to spread beyond the primary focus, namely: foot-and-mouth disease and anthrax in animals; plague, epidemic pneumonia, and emphysematous carbuncle in cattle; glanders, epizootic lymphangitis, infectious anemia, equine encephalomyelitis, and contagious pleuropneumonia in horses; swine plague and erysipelas; sheep pox; infectious pleuropneumonia in goats; fowl plague, Newcastle’s disease, pasteurellosis, smallpox, mycoplasmosis, and viral hepatitis in poultry; rubella in carp; branchiomycosis, furunculosis, infectious anemia, and myxosomosis in salmon, and discocotylosis in trout. The list of diseases for which quarantine is imposed is determined by the Veterinary Regulations of the USSR. Changes in and additions to this list are introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR and are reflected in respective instructions. Depending on the extent to which a disease has spread, individual barnyards, herds, apiaries, ponds, farms, and sections thereof may be placed under quarantine. Quarantine is imposed and lifted by decision of the executive committees of raion or municipal Soviets of working people’s deputies upon the presentation of the chief veterinarian. Responsibility for the observance of quarantine rests with the directors of the individual farm or enterprise. Preventive quarantine is used to monitor the health of animals while being transported from other farms (including farms abroad).


Gromashevskii, L. V. Obshchaia epidemiologiia, 4th ed. Moscow, 1965.
Kompantsev, N. F., and A. V. Pavlov. Organizatsiia raboty po profilak-tike karantinnykh zabolevanii. Kiev, 1968. (Bibliography.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a quarantine?

A quarantine may indicate the dreamer feels the need to prevent contact with people or situations that might contaminate the dreamer or the dreamer’s family.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


Limitation of freedom of movement of susceptible individuals who have been exposed to communicable disease, for a period of time equal to the incubation period of the disease.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a period of isolation or detention, esp of persons or animals arriving from abroad, to prevent the spread of disease, usually consisting of the maximum known incubation period of the suspected disease
2. the place or area where such detention is enforced
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


To take a spyware or virus-infected file out of harm's way by stripping its rights or by moving it to a folder that cannot be easily accessible by regular file management utilities. For example, if an antivirus program cannot remove the virus from an executable file, it generally quarantines it.

The quarantine function may be an option in antivirus software so that companies can keep a record of which users have been infected, where the file came from as well as to send the virus to the antivirus vendor for inspection. Spyware blockers quarantine files so that they can be restored if required. See antivirus program, disinfect and spyware blocker.
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