Of Quarantines And Pest Houses
Seventeenth century diseases such as the plague and yellow fever entered the American colonies on ships arriving from the Caribbean. As a result, the Massachusetts Colony passed the first quarantine legislation in 1647. The Court required all ships that came from the West Indies to stay at the "Castle" at the entrance to the harbor and not land any passengers or goods without a license. In the 18th century, when smallpox decimated many communities, isolation hospitals (referred to as "pest houses") were set up at some ports. But enforcement of quarantines was spotty, prompting Congress to pass the first national quarantine legislation on this date in 1799. The act required federal officers to help enforce state and municipal regulations.
Copyright Aetna InteliHealth, Inc., 2013. All rights reserved.