Disclaimer. I am not a licensed health practitioner. This is just another post on an item you might wish to have available if needed so that a physician can treat you and your family as best as possible. No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician. Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care. A qualified, licensed physician or other medical provider should be consulted before beginning any herbal or conventional treatment.
There is a substantial difference between quarantine and isolation; these terms are not synonyms. Isolation is for those known to be ill with a contagious disease, to separate individuals who are sick from those who are not. Quarantine is practiced in relation to people exposed to a contagious disease but who may or may not become ill. In theory, it separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a disease, to see if they become sick. Both actions are taken to protect the group or community.
Today's post will address quarantine only. Next week's post will address isolation.
Federal law authorizes quarantine for following diseases:
- infectious tuberculosis
- yellow fever
- viral hemorrhagic fevers
- pandemic flu
The above diseases are basically the only ones that the government screens for at our borders, ports, and airports. (If that, but that's for another post.) All of those diseases have the potential to be fatal. Beyond these diseases, however, there are a whole lot more illnesses you might be concerned about and which you wish to prevent from coming into your home, afflicting your family, and using up your medical supplies. I'm especially leery of coming into contact with anyone with strep throat, vomiting, or lice. Been there, done that.
I would hope that anyone with hepatitis, MRSA, pneumonia, fevers, or any other disease or symptoms would have the decency to stay away from others and practice self-isolation and self-quarantine. But in our society, that's nothing more than a pipe dream. Parents put sick children into the nursery at church all the time right now. They pressure doctors for antibiotic prescriptions so that they can send their children back to daycare ASAP, even though the disease is probably viral so the antibiotic won't work anyway. (My daughter saw this in the upper middle class daycare she worked at for two or three weeks. She couldn't take it any longer than that and quit.) When we're sick, we take cold remedies or other things to feel better, so that we can go to work. Public schools have attendance laws, so if students aren't completely well but are doing ok, they go back to school, still contagious, and spread disease further. And then, when people are sick, they're more susceptible to catching other illnesses and spreading the joy even more. Americans are idiots that way.
Of course, there are a whole lot of other communicable diseases to be aware of and screen for than those listed above.
- everything for which we have immunizations right now, because a lot of people are not immunized;
- parasites like lice, scabies, fleas, and bedbugs;
- vector borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever;
- and the list goes on.
Is the runny nose or cough or itchy eyes really just allergies? Is the rash contact dermatitis, or something a bit more ominous? Does the toddler really have only a cold, which probably won't have serious consequences for anyone who catches it, or is it infectious mononucleosis, which only causes a runny nose in small children for a few days (and has an incubation period lasting up to five to six weeks), but which can be extremely debilitating in an older teen or adult?
It's best to determine in advance how you are going to handle quarantine of any outsiders, and that includes family and close friends. If society has collapsed, and it's been more than a few weeks, even a few days, the potential for all kinds of nasty diseases is out there. And the lack of advanced medical care if someone does fall sick is concern enough to practice quarantine.
Are you letting them into your house? Do you have a barn they can use? What about a nice size tent and other camping equipment they can use? Maybe an RV? Determine how long you're going to enforce this quarantine. According to Dr. Koelker, even five days of quarantine will decrease the transmission risk for disease by 90%. But some of those nasties have much longer incubation periods. Are you prepared to keep the quarantine in place for up to ten days, or three weeks, or better yet, five weeks? It's your call. But prepare yourself. Your "guests" will probably be angry.
Remind people that if someone breaks quarantine, the quarantine period starts over from the very beginning.
If however, the people at your door do not look healthy and/or something nasty is circulating, you definitely don't want to let them in. Maybe the barn or a tent, but not with the rest of your family. Remember, your first responsibility is your family. That means keeping them and you healthy.
Even if people appear healthy and if you decide to admit them, complete physical checks are warranted to be sure. Lice? While they make adults itch, often children do not itch, and it's only when some spies the bugs crawling around that they realize they've got an issue. Scabies and bedbugs can also be difficult to identify, and a lot of people aren't easily going to 'fess up about having them.
By the same token, if you have something going around your house, it would be a kindness to advise anyone coming to your house.
"Hey guys, great to see you, long time no see. How's it going? Oh, you're just dropping by for a visit? Well, gee, I'd love to have you in. No one comes to see us anymore since I got leprosy and my sweetie here got tuberculosis. Wait, DON'T GO!"
For further reading:
Armageddon Medicine, pp 94-98.
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