CDC Proposes Bird
Flu Quarantine Regulations

WASHINGTON -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has proposed updates to existing regulations that would allow the agency to move more swiftly to control a potential outbreak of disease that may result when a sick passenger arrives in the United States via commercial airline or ship. The regulations were proposed in November and published in the Federal Register for public comment.
"CDC is committed to protecting health by preventing the introduction of communicable diseases into the United States," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding in a statement. "These updated regulations are necessary to expedite and improve CDC operations by facilitating contact tracing and prompting immediate medical follow-up of potentially infected passengers and their contacts."
Key updates to existing regulations include: expanding reporting of sick passengers onboard interstate flights as well as airline flights and ships arriving from foreign countries; requiring that ships and airline flights arriving from foreign countries and certain interstate flights maintain passenger and crew lists and submit lists electronically to CDC upon request; and explicit due process provisions for persons subject to quarantine.
Most public health actions are voluntary because ill and infected travelers often understand the importance of keeping themselves separated from others and remaining in a safe location where they receive care. CDC's quarantine authority generally would only be used if someone posed a threat to public health and refused to cooperate with a voluntary request.
In 2003, CDC experienced a number of challenges in contacting airline passengers who may have been exposed to SARS during travel. Building on the SARS experience, CDC began increasing the number of quarantine stations and enhanced the training and response capacity of all staff. In addition, work began after the outbreak was controlled to evaluate and analyze what changes were necessary in federal regulations to modernize control of communicable disease and quarantine regulations.
The Public Health Service Act authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make regulations to prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases into the United States and from one state into any other state. Existing communicable disease regulations are outdated, have not kept up with advances in disease control measures and have not been substantially updated for over 25 years.
A communicable disease is one that can pass from a person or animal to another person. CDC's role is to contact individuals who may have been exposed to a communicable disease and recommend appropriate treatments, or initiate such public health actions as isolation and quarantine. HHS is empowered to prevent persons who are believed to have one of nine specific communicable diseases from entering the country through the use of isolation and quarantine. These diseases include Pandemic influenza, Cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers and SARS.



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