- The period of isolation decreed to control the spread of infectious disease. Before the era of antibiotics, quarantine as one of the few available means for halting the spread of infectious diseases. It is still employed as needed, for example, with an animal suspected of having rabies. The word "quarantine" comes from the Latin word "quadraginta" meaning forty. This was probably because it was known that the incubation period of most infectious diseases was less than 40 days. In 1348 Venice was the first city to impose a quarantine. It did so to halt the epidemic of the bubonic plague.
* * *1. A period (originally 40 days) of detention of vessels and their passengers coming from an area where an infectious disease prevails. 2. To detain such vessels and their passengers until the incubation period of an infectious disease has passed. 3. A place where such vessels and their passengers are detained. 4. The isolation of a person with a known or possible contagious disease. [It. quarantina fr. L. quadraginta, forty]
* * *quar·an·tine 'kwȯr-ən-.tēn, 'kwär- n1 a) a term during which a ship arriving in port and suspected of carrying contagious disease is held in isolation from the shoreb) a regulation placing a ship in quarantinec) a place where a ship is detained during quarantine2 a) a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons or the transport of goods that is designed to prevent the spread of disease or pestsb) a place in which those under quarantine are keptquarantine vb, -tined; -tin·ing vt to detain in or exclude by quarantine vi to establish or declare a quarantine
* * *n.the period for which a person (or animal) is kept in isolation in order to prevent the spread of a contagious disease. The original quarantine was a period of 40 days, but different diseases now have different quarantine periods.
* * *quar·an·tine (kworґən-tēn) (kwahrґən-tēn) [Ital. quarantina, from L. quadraginta forty] 1. restriction of freedom of movement of apparently well individuals who have been exposed to infectious disease, imposed for the usual maximal incubation period of the disease (quarantine period). Cf. surveillance (def. 2). 2. quarantine period; see under period. 3. the place where persons are detained for inspection. 4. to detain or isolate on account of suspected contagion.
Medical dictionary. 2011.