From White House - AP
April 1, 2005
White House - AP
Order OKs Bird Flu Quarantine in U.S.
WASHINGTON - President Bush signed an executive order Friday
authorizing the government to impose a quarantine to deal with any outbreak
of a particularly lethal variation of influenza now found in Southeast Asia.The
order is intended to deal with a type of influenza commonly referred to
as bird flu. Since January 2004, an estimated 69 people, primarily in Vietnam,
have contracted the disease. But Dr. Keiji Fukuda, a flu expert at the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, has said he suspects there are more
The fatality rate among those reported to have the disease
is about 70 percent.
Health officials around the world are trying to monitor the
virus closely because some flu pandemics are believed to have originated
Bush's order was described as a standby precaution, adding
pandemic influenza to the government's list of communicable diseases for
which a quarantine is authorized. It gives the government legal authority
to detain or isolate a passenger arriving in the United States to prevent
an infection from spreading.
The authority would be used only if the passenger posed a
threat to public health and refused to cooperate with a voluntary request,
the Health and Human Services Department said.
The quarantine list was amended in 2003 to include SARS, severe
acute respiratory syndrome, which killed nearly 800 people in 2003. Other
diseases on the list are cholera, diptheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague,
smallpox, yellow fever and viral hemorrhagic fevers.
Quarantine and isolation were last used during the SARS outbreak
in 2003. The last large-scale quarantine was during the Spanish flu pandemic
of 1918-19, although there have been lesser quarantines — for instance,
travelers coming off airliners or cruise ships who have been exposed to
Jennifer Morcone, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said Bush's executive
order was intended to prepare for all options.
Typically, she said, the Public Heath Service would recommend
voluntary home quarantine when possible. In general, the government defers
to state and local authorities in their use of quarantine powers, and would
work with them in the event of an outbreak, she said.
"This is just another practical step to prepare for the
possibility" of an outbreak, she said.
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