From SARS to Ebola: Legal and Ethical Considerations for Modern Quarantine
Indiana Health Law Review, vol.12, no.1, 2015 Forthcoming
54 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2015
Date Written: January 9, 2015
Quarantine remains an important part of the strategy for containing infectious diseases, especially when there is no vaccine or demonstrably effective treatment. Experience with SARS and, more recently, Ebola indicate that quarantine is fraught with ethical challenges. In the United States, legislation authorizing quarantine has been enacted in every state, and these laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court. The problems have been in identifying when quarantine is necessary and in implementation. The following ethical principles should guide public health officials in deciding whether and how to impose a quarantine: (1) necessity, effectiveness, and scientific rationale; (2) proportionality and least infringement; (3) humane supportive services; and (4) public justification.
Keywords: quarantine, SARS, ebola, public health, isolation, health law, bioethics, epidemics
JEL Classification: K31, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation