Local health officers use a variety of strategies to control communicable disease, including isolation and quarantine. See, e.g., WAC 246-100-036(3). Washington law authorizes involuntary detention for purposes of isolation or quarantine of person(s) who have been exposed to, or are suspected to have been exposed to, a communicable disease. See WAC 246-100-040 to -070; infra § 5.30. The federal government also may detain persons arriving from foreign countries into the United States or traveling from one state or possession into another for purposes of controlling the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases listed in Executive Orders of the President. See 42 U.S.C. § 264; infra § 5.34.
Isolation and quarantine are forms of "social distancing." Social distancing measures are intended to decrease the spread of disease by decreasing opportunities for close contact among persons in the community. Pub. Health - Seattle & King County, Pandemic Influenza Response Plan (June 1, 2006). However, isolation and quarantine may be insufficient strategies. For example, quarantine is likely to be a viable strategy only during the first stage of an influenza pandemic because influenza is highly infectious and can be transmitted by people who appear to be well. Id.
This chapter also discusses control of animal diseases. See infra § 5.40.