With the announcement that Donald and Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19, the subject of quarantine is front page news.
It is interesting to note that quarantine is an ancient concept.
The Book of Leviticus describes the practice of isolating the sick to prevent the infection of the healthy. The word itself comes from the Italian quarantina meaning 40 days of isolation.
It originated in Venice during the 14th century and the height of the Black Death. In Colonial America, it was instituted in 1663 to stop the spread of smallpox.
Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary, was quarantined for 23 years in New York City in the early 20th century.
During the 1918 Flu Pandemic, quarantine was practiced around the world and in Phoenix.
When the Apollo 11 astronauts returned from their historic flight to the Moon, they were quarantined for 21 days to prevent the introduction of pathogens from the Moon to Earth.
Enough ancient history.
The question of the day is what type and duration of quarantine will the White House institute? Answer TBD.
Leonard Kirschner MD, MPH