Quarantine, isolation, and cohorting: From cholera to Klebsiella

Laura H. Rosenberger, Lin M. Riccio, Kristin Turza Campbell, Amani D. Politano, Robert G. Sawyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Isolation is defined as the separation of persons with communicable diseases from those who are healthy. This public health practice, along with quarantine, is used to limit the transmission of infectious diseases and provides the foundation of current-day cohorting. Methods: Review of the pertinent English-language literature. Results: Mass isolation developed during the medieval Black Death outbreaks in order to protect ports from the transmission of epidemics. In the mid-1800s, infectious disease hospitals were opened. It now is clear that isolation and cohorting of patients and staff interrupts the transmission of disease. Over the next century, with the discovery of penicillin and vaccines against many infectious agents, the contagious disease hospitals began to close. Today, we find smaller outbreaks of microorganisms that have acquired substantial resistance to antimicrobial agents. In the resource-limited hospital, a dedicated area or region of a unit may suffice to separate affected from unaffected patients. Conclusion: Quarantine, or cohorting when patients are infected with the same pathogen, interrupts the spread of infections, just as the contagious disease hospitals did during the epidemics of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-73
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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