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Decision to Release Ebola Nurse from Quarantine is Shortsighted and Jeopardizes Public Health by Jerry Reisman

October 27, 2014 Posted in: Our Blog

Authorities have been shortsighted in releasing  Kaci Hickox, the nurse who returned to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, from quarantine.

The rights of individuals are weighed against the risk of harm to the public and when the good of the public is at stake, the rights of the individual diminishes.

One of the most famous examples of a quarantine is that of Mary Malone — Typhoid Mary, a cook in New York in the early 20th century and a carrier of typhus.  She spread the disease to the family for which she worked. She was quarantined and then released with the understanding that she would not work as a cook and would wear gloves when handling food.  She did neither, and other families became sick.  Health officials responded by quarantining her for the rest of her life.

The rights of the community at large trump Hickox’s civil liberties and public-health authorities have broad powers to protect health, including the ability to limit the liberty of the individual.