Isolation refers to the separation of people who have a specific infectious illness from those who are healthy.
Quarantine refers to the separation and restriction of movement of people who have been exposed to an infectious agent but who are not sick or showing symptoms.
Any outbreak of a serious, highly contagious illness such as pandemic flu, plague or smallpox could cause isolations and quarantines. A terrorist attack involving radiation or chemicals also could trigger isolations and quarantines.
You must obey isolation and quarantine orders made by a health authority. People who do not comply could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the situation.
Most people see that it is in their best interest to cooperate. In widespread emergency situations, people who suspect they are sick may choose to voluntarily isolate or quarantine themselves.
Isolations and quarantines are overseen, and in some cases enforced, by health departments, law enforcement, transportation authorities and health care providers.
Often, isolations and quarantines take place in your own home. But you also may be at another residence or in a medical facility or other institution.
If an isolation or quarantine happens within an apartment complex or other multi- family dwelling, a separate air ventilation system may be needed.
Access to medical care, food, water, telephone, electricity and medicines must be considered in every isolation and quarantine situation. In large-scale emergency situations, health officials will work with military and retail stores to be sure that people have needed supplies and medical care.
If you are isolated or quarantined it is important that you have a way to use a telephone. But for the safety of the public and your family, it is best to keep some family members such as infants and the elderly away from you if you are sick or have been exposed to a communicable illness.
If you have symptoms related to or feel you have been exposed to a serious, highly contagious illness, contact your doctor or local health authority. In large emergency situations, people will be told if they should be isolated or quarantined.