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The process of preventing the spread of a transmissible infectious disease by limiting the movements of cases and close contacts (“voluntary quarantine”) or, as in the smallpox eradication campaign, by vaccinating all contacts of every diagnosed case, which prevented transmission of smallpox from cases to contacts. This tactical approach to smallpox control, suggested by the American epidemiologist Donald Soper (1894–1977) in 1949, was successfully used in the WHO smallpox eradication campaign. Another form of containment is “ring prophylaxis,” in which transmission of an epidemic infectious disease spread by person-to-person contact, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or acute influenza A, is halted by prophylactic antiviral treatment of cases and immediate contacts.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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