Beneficial Quarantines For Infectious Diseases

Jessica Rix
February 4, 2008
Bioethics
Rachel Robson

Beneficial Quarantines for Infectious Diseases

In May of 2007, a man by the name of Andrew Speaker traveled internationally while infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. The federal government became involved to stop him from potentially infecting other people (Fidler, Gostin, & Markel 2007). Recent epidemics of infectious disease scares have brought to light the need to control wide-spread infections. These scares have also enlightened the population to the battle between civil rights and the good of the public’s health. Quarantines should be part of a plan to control and stop the spread of potentially deadly airborne diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and tuberculosis.

Infectious diseases are a very serious threat to human kind. In 2003, there was an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. SARS affected countries around the world, including most of Asia, mainly China, Canada, and the United States (Reis 2004). The fatalities from the SARS outbreak were numerous. It spread to over twenty-eight countries and infected over eight thousand people. There were over 750 fatalities recorded from the SARS epidemic (Yip, Lau, Lam, & Huggins 2004).

Tuberculosis, the leading cause of death from a single infectious disease, is still at large in many continents and countries (Bloom & Murray 1992). Out of every three people, one is a host to the type of bacteria that causes tuberculosis. This leads to between seven and eight million cases of active tuberculosis that occurs every year. There are approximately three million deaths from tuberculosis annually (Ginberg 1998). Therefore, action needs to take place to protect innocent people from getting the infection and starting an epidemic.

To stop the spread of SARS, tuberculosis, or other deadly airborne infectious diseases, quarantines should be used. The ethics of quarantines, detaining people at home or in the hospital are commonly questioned. There is a need for respecting individual’s liberties and rights, and at the same time promote the health of the rest of the population’s citizens.
Utilitarianism is an idea that supports the use of quarantines. Utilitarianism is the idea that the sacrifice of one person is acceptable to protect the lives of others. For instance, when a person commits a crime, his or her individual rights are taken away to protect the individual rights of others. Conduct should be determined by the value of the individuals at stake. An individual’s rights do not outweigh the rights of multiple people that would be potentially infected with a deadly airborne disease (Goodin, 1995, p. 3).

John Barnes, who lived in London, was infected with cholera, another communicable disease. He died after infecting his wife and two men who had visited him (Snow 1855). Having quarantines may affect some individual rights that many people are used to, but it may be worth it. Quarantines should be part of a plan to help lower the number of people affected. Utilitarianism is an idea that protects the rights of multiple people versus and individual person’s rights. SARS and tuberculosis are examples of potentially deadly airborne diseases that need to be quarantined to contain and control them. Epidemics are an increased risk of a defined population, and they are very serious. It affects many people, and often results in large numbers of deaths. Mandatory quarantines need to be used efficiently and effectively to help stop the spread of deadly airborne infectious diseases.

Works Cited
Bloom, B. R., & Murray, C. J. L. (1992). Tuberculosis: Commentary on a Reemergent Killer. Science, 257, 1055-1064.

Fidler, D. P., Gostin, L. O., & Markel, H. (2007). Through the Quarantine Looking Glass: Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis and Public Health Governance, Law, and Ethics. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 35, 616–628.

Ginsberg, A. M. (1998). The Tuberculosis Epidemic. Scientific Challenges and Opportunities. Public Health Report, 113, 128-136.

Goodin, R. E. (1995). Utilitarianism as a Public Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ries, N. M. (2004). Public Health Law and Ethics: Lessons from SARS and Quarantine. Health Law Review, 13, 3-6.

Snow, J. (1855). On the Mode of Communication of Cholera. London: John Churchill, New Burlington Street.

Yip, P. S. F., Lau, E. H. Y., Lam, K. F., & Huggins, R. M. (2004). A Chain Multinomial Model for Estimating the Real-Time Fatality Rate of a Disease, with an Application to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. American Journal of Epidemiology, 161, 700-706.

**Thesis: 18/20 pts
Thesis very strong, not inclusive of arguments made in paper though.

Organization: 14/20 pts
Need some transitions btw ideas within paragraphs. Random cholera tangent distracting. Utilitarianism point needs to be integrated better.

Evidence: 20/20 pts
Fantastic

Clarity of Writing: 16/20 pts
Some words too vague, ill defined.

Style: 16/20 pts
Conclusion needs to be much stronger. Andrew Speaker point dropped.

82/100 pts total**

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