Isolation, quarantine, and other confusing terms….

There are a lot of terms floating around right now that are not usually included in our day to day life or vocabulary. In order to help us decipher the news, we hope to provide simple definitions for these terms and in doing so answer questions such as “What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?”

Active Monitoring means that you should monitor yourself for fever throughout the day and be alert for other symptoms such as cough or difficult breathing.  You will be contacted by a nurse throughout the day to assess your condition.  During this time, you should remain quarantined or isolated as directed, and will be given contact information which you will call if your symptoms worsen.  Please note this is different than Self-Monitoring; see below.

Asymptomatic means not showing symptoms.

CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This US federal agency is tasked to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the US.

Community Spread is spread of a disease where the infection source is unknown.

Communicable means “capable of being communicated (spread) or transmitted.”  Influenza and COVID-19 are communicable diseases.

Contact Tracing is when the Department of Health will trace and monitor contacts of infected people.

Coronavirus refers to any of various RNA-containing spherical viruses of the family Coronaviridae, including several that cause acute respiratory illnesses.  SARS and MERS are notable coronaviruses like COVID-19.

Epidemic vs Pandemic: An epidemic disease is one affecting many persons at the same time and spreading from person to person in a region or community.  A pandemic disease is an epidemic that has spread over a larger area, that is, prevalent throughout an entire county, continent, or the whole world.

Epidemiology is the branch of medicine dealing with the incidence and prevalence of disease in large populations and with detection of the source and cause of epidemics of infectious disease.

Herd Immunity also known as herd protection or group protection refers to stopping a disease from spreading by a large group becoming immune to it.  This can happen through vaccines or multiple people contracting the disease and in time, build up a natural immunity.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.  These people should NOT go out and should NOT interact with others.  Stay home. Have your groceries and other necessities delivered to you.

Person Under Investigation (PUI) is an individual that is suspected of having COVID-19 or of having come in contact with someone that was transmitting COVID-19. The person will be interviewed and assessed for symptoms by the Public Health Department.

Presumptive Positive is the status of an individual that has not tested for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus but is presumed to have the virus due to symptoms or close contact with someone that is exhibiting signs or symptoms of the virus or close contact with an individual that has tested positive for COVID-19.

Quarantine restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease, but who are not yet symptomatic, to see if they become sick. Ideally, this restriction of movement should separate them from others who have not been exposed.

Respirator is a mask like device worn over the mouth (or nose and mouth) to prevent the inhalation of small atmospheric particles.  Healthcare professionals wear N-95 mask respirators to filter out the virus particles of COVID-19.

Self-Monitoring means that you should monitor yourself for fever throughout the day and be alert for other symptoms such as cough or difficult breathing.  If you have been sent home to self-monitor, you should remain quarantined, and will be given contact information which you will call in the event that your symptoms worsen.

Social Distancing requires people to refrain from interacting closely or frequently enough to spread an infectious disease.  This means remaining out of public places where close contact can occur.  Avoiding crowds and staying at least six feet away from others means that classroom settings, some workplace settings, frequent shopping trips, public transportation, etc. should all be eliminated as much as possible. Social distancing differs from isolation and quarantining in that they both involve people who are already infected/exposed.

Ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breathe by pumping oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide through a tube that has been inserted into the patient’s windpipe. The insertion of the tube into a patient’s windpipe is called intubation.

Worried Well are the people who do not need medical treatment, but who visit the doctor seeking treatment, need to be reassured, or with emotional challenges.

Most of us may only have to go as far as social distancing to keep ourselves, our families and our friends safe.  If we all do our part, we should also keep our health care systems from being overwhelmed and reduce the number of mortalities.