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Disease carriers can be isolated under state law

Posted April 29, 2009
Updated April 30, 2009

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— North Carolina law allows state and county public health officials to require anyone with a contagious disease to stay home or be charged with a misdemeanor.

"In a situation where there is widespread concern, sometimes people don't always think as clearly as they might otherwise," Orange County Health Director Dr. Rosemary Summers said.

Orange County Health Director Dr. Rosemary Summers Orange County has used isolation law

Six years ago, Summers invoked the state law to quarantine a man who had developed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. Isolating him prevented him exposing co-workers to the disease, she said.

"We did have a public health nurse monitor that situation on a daily basis," she said.

The man and his family cooperated with health officials, and Summers said her department always seeks cooperation before issuing an isolation order, which requires patients to comply with medical treatment and stay away from others.

The Orange County Health Department issues two to three each year for people with diseases like HIV and tuberculosis who don't follow protocols to prevent the spread of their disease, she said.

Quarantine orders go beyond individual patients to isolate family members and others who have been in close proximity to those with the communicable disease.

"We typically have not done that because we get such good voluntary compliance," Summers said.

In some cases, patients who don't comply with isolation orders could be taken to a prison hospital to ensure proper treatment.

6 Comments

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  • whatelseisnew Apr 30, 2009

    And yet we are told, closing the borders makes no sense because the horse is out of the barn. So if we supposedly do not care if more infected people come into our country, we would we care if infected people go out and about? Is there some sort of mysterious force that prevents the spread of this disease if you come into North Carolina from another country and you are infected?

  • notthemama Apr 30, 2009

    Great, not only can Bev raise your taxes and lower your pay (she is mandated to do that, by the way...) now she can isolate you too!

  • amyrn Apr 30, 2009

    Cherry Hospital had a TB ward (and it may still) where people would have to go if they didn't comply with their medications.

  • Bendal1 Apr 30, 2009

    I kind of doubt HIV carriers are as contagious as someone with measles or the flu, unless your "interaction" with them is more than at the usual office level.

  • ohmygosh Apr 30, 2009

    Imagine doing this for the known HIV carriers.

  • grandmagail Apr 29, 2009

    I can remember as a child being isolated because of measles. The county (Wake) posted a sign on our front door.