Main Article Content
Quarantine; History of Medicine; Plague; Coronavirus; Isolation; Prevention; COVID-19; Epidemics; Pandemics.
The ongoing 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is an enormous challenge for the health systems and the entire societies of the countries involved. Since at present the outbreak continues to evolve (April 2020), the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a public health emergency of international concern, specifying that public health interventions aimed at the prevention of the further spread of this disease include quarantine. Quarantine, that may be defined as a restraint on the activities of people or on the traffic of goods, targeted to the prevention of the diffusion of communicable pathologies, is a health concept profoundly rooted in the history of mankind.
The lessons of the past are always pertinent for the present and for the future, in particular from a public health standpoint. One of the most relevant of them is connected with previous influenza pandemics, similar to the current COVID-19 2019/2020 pandemic, and it indicates that it is practically impossible, even in recent times, to contain the infection in the geographic area where it has risen and to prevent its trans-national disseminated spread. With specific reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, health authorities still adopt "classical" preventive interventions, namely workplace social distancing measures and quarantine, to reduce the transmission of the disease. Only the future will testify the precise overall effectiveness of preventive public health measures in containing the impact of the present coronavirus pandemic. However, what in this epidemiological scenario is already known, is that the multi-century international health value of quarantine remains essential and unavoidable.
2) Maglen K. Politics of quarantine in the 19th century. Journal of the American Medical Association 2003; 290: 2873.
3) Conti AA. Quarantine Through History. In: Kris Heggenhougen and Stella Quah, editors International Encyclopedia of Public Health, Vol 5. San Diego: Academic Press, 2008; pp. 454-462.
4) Conti AA, Gensini GF. Isolation as effective control of air-transmissible disease: historical highlights. Analecta Historico Medica 2008; 6: 43-6.
5) Conti AA. Reconstructing medical history: historiographical features, approaches and challenges. Clin Ter 2011; 162: 133-6.
6) Grmek MD. (ed.) Western Medical Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 1998.
7) Knowelden J. Quarantine and Isolation. The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edn., 1979; pp. 326–327. Chicago, IL: Helen Hemingway Benton.
8) Mafart B, Perret JL. History of the concept of quarantine. Medecine Tropicale 2003; 58: 14–20.
9) Al-Ateeg FA. Isolation versus quarantine and alternative measures to control emerging infectious diseases. Saudi Medical Journal 2004; 25: 1337–1346.
10) Ahmed F, Zviedrite N, Uzicanin A. Effectiveness of workplace social distancing measures in reducing influenza transmission: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 2018; 18: 518.
11) Bell D, Nicoll A, Fukuda K, Horby P, Monto A, Hayden F, et al. World Health Organization Writing Group. Non-pharmaceutical interventions for pandemic influenza, international measures. Emerg Infect Dis 2006; 12: 81-7.
12) Markel H, Lipman HB, Navarro JA, Sloan A, Michalsen JR, Stern AM, et al. Nonpharmaceutical interventions implemented by US cities during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. JAMA 2007; 298: 644-54.
13) European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Guide to public health measures to reduce the impact of influenza pandemics in Europe. The ECDC Menu. Stockholm: The Centre, 2009.
14) Smith WD. The Hippocratic Tradition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press; 1979.
15) Conti AA. Historical evolution of the concept of health in Western medicine. Acta Biomed 2018; 89: 352-4.
16) Gensini GF, Yacoub MH, Conti AA. The concept of quarantine in history: from plague to SARS. J Infect 2004; 49: 257-61.
17) Kilwein JH. Some historical comments on quarantine: Part one. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 1995; 20: 185–187.
18) Kilwein JH. Some historical comments on quarantine: Part two. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 1995; 20: 249–252.
19) Borghi L. Umori. Il fattore umano nella storia delle discipline biomediche. Società Editrice Universo srl, Roma, 2012.
20) Conti AA, Lippi D, Gensini GF. Tuberculosis: A long fight against it and its current resurgence. Monaldi Archives of Chest Disease 2004; 61: 71–74.
21) Zambon M, Nicholson KG. Sudden acute respiratory syndrome. British Medical Journal 2003; 326: 669–670.
22) Fondazione GIMBE. Efficacia delle misure di distanziamento sociale per contrastare le pandemie influenzali. Evidence 2020;12(3): e1000207.
23) Ho W. Guideline on management of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Lancet 2003; 361: 1313–1315.
24) Conti AA, Gensini GF. The historical evolution of some intrinsic dimensions of Quarantine. Med Secoli 2007; 19: 173-188.
25) Fidler DP. International Law and Infectious Diseases. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 1999.