Bush Authorizes Use of Quarantine Powers in Cases of Bird Flu
April 2, 2005
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON, April 1 (AP) - President Bush signed an executive order on
Friday authorizing the government to impose a quarantine to deal with any
outbreak of a particularly lethal variation of influenza now found in
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 federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, has said
he suspects there are more cases.
The fatality rate among those reported to have contracted the disease is
about 70 percent.
Health officials around the world are trying to monitor the virus because
some flu pandemics are thought to have begun with birds.
Mr. Bush's order added pandemic influenza to the government's list of
communicable diseases for which a quarantine is authorized. It gives the
government 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 Department of
Health and Human Services said.
The quarantine list was amended in 2003 to include SARS, or severe acute
respiratory syndrome, which killed nearly 800 people in 2003. Other diseases
on the list are cholera, diphtheria, 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, though there have been lesser quarantines - for instance, travelers
coming off airliners or cruise ships who have been exposed to curable
Jennifer Morcone, a spokeswoman for the health centers, said Mr. Bush's
executive order was intended to prepare for all options.
The Public Health Service, Ms. Morcone said, would typically 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 case of an outbreak, she said.