Quantifying the impact of community quarantine on SARS transmission in Ontario: estimation of secondary case count difference and number needed to quarantine
- Susan J Bondy^{1},
- Margaret L Russell^{2}Email author,
- Julie ML Laflèche^{3} and
- Elizabeth Rea^{1, 3}
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-9-488
© Bondy et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009
Received: 9 July 2009
Accepted: 24 December 2009
Published: 24 December 2009
Abstract
Background
Community quarantine is controversial, and the decision to use and prepare for it should be informed by specific quantitative evidence of benefit. Case-study reports on 2002-2004 SARS outbreaks have discussed the role of quarantine in the community in transmission. However, this literature has not yielded quantitative estimates of the reduction in secondary cases attributable to quarantine as would be seen in other areas of health policy and cost-effectiveness analysis.
Methods
Using data from the 2003 Ontario, Canada, SARS outbreak, two novel expressions for the impact of quarantine are presented. Secondary Case Count Difference (SCCD) reflects reduction in the average number of transmissions arising from a SARS case in quarantine, relative to not in quarantine, at onset of symptoms. SCCD was estimated using Poisson and negative binomial regression models (with identity link function) comparing the number of secondary cases to each index case for quarantine relative to non-quarantined index cases. The inverse of this statistic is proposed as the number needed to quarantine (NNQ) to prevent one additional secondary transmission.
Results
Our estimated SCCD was 0.133 fewer secondary cases per quarantined versus non-quarantined index case; and a NNQ of 7.5 exposed individuals to be placed in community quarantine to prevent one additional case of transmission in the community. This analysis suggests quarantine can be an effective preventive measure, although these estimates lack statistical precision.
Conclusions
Relative to other health policy areas, literature on quarantine tends to lack in quantitative expressions of effectiveness, or agreement on how best to report differences in outcomes attributable to control measure. We hope to further this discussion through presentation of means to calculate and express the impact of population control measures. The study of quarantine effectiveness presents several methodological and statistical challenges. Further research and discussion are needed to understand the costs and benefits of enacting quarantine, and this includes a discussion of how quantitative benefit should be communicated to decision-makers and the public, and evaluated.
Background
Outbreaks such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and H1N1 influenza have triggered acute policy debates around community-based infection control measures [1–4]. Quarantine is the segregation of healthy persons exposed to an infectious disease from unexposed persons, until the exposed person becomes ill or the incubation period has passed [2, 5]. Quarantine is also one of the most controversial measures available in outbreak control, with important impacts on economic activity and civil liberties [6, 7]. Public health agencies need to have weighed evidence of the potential costs and benefits of these manoeuvres before the next outbreak of a severe, novel infection [8, 9] and to have publicly and widely communicated the importance of planned control measures [6, 10]. This makes outcome evaluation of modern quarantine activity an important area for research [2, 4, 6].
Health policy and practice guidelines rely heavily on experimental and quasi-experimental research comparing outcomes under intervention and non-intervention conditions [11–14]. Statistical estimates used in health decision-making tend to derive from differences in outcome rates in treated versus non-treated individuals (e.g., risk difference, RD; attributable risk, AR and population attributable risk, PAR) [12, 13, 15], as well as variations on the number needed to treat (NNT) statistic [11, 15–20]. Research to evaluate the impact of modern quarantine is less well-developed, and no clear tradition has emerged in the measures of association used to communicate net harm and benefit. The quantitative impact of control measures for infectious diseases is commonly assessed using variants of the effective reproductive number, R (the average observed number of secondary infections per index cases in an observed population). R_{t} the daily effective reproductive number, is the observed number of secondary cases to index case at a specific time. When R_{t,} has a value below1.0, this is evidence that an outbreak is dying out [21].
Here, we discuss the quantitative evidence available to inform policy-makers on the potential benefit of community-based quarantine in outbreak control, based upon the SARS experience. To bridge the gap between evaluative research on quarantine and other areas, we also use data from the 2003 Ontario, Canada (hereafter, Ontario), SARS outbreak to demonstrate statistical approaches used elsewhere to the evaluation of modern quarantine measures.
We propose a series of measures of reduction of adverse outcomes (analogous to those used in other contexts), to evaluation of quarantine. Specifically, we estimated the difference in secondary transmissions that is attributable to community quarantine as the Secondary Case Count Difference (SCCD), which is comparable to risk difference statistics and interpretable as reduction in average transmissions per existing case, attributable to intervention. We also report the inverse of this statistic, interpretable as Number Need to Quarantine (NNQ).
Methods
Subjects and data extraction
The contact tracing and quarantine procedures used in the 2003 Ontario SARS outbreak have been described previously [22, 23]. From source public health records, we extracted data for all 332 index cases with a final disposition of suspect or probable SARS [23] of whom 204 had at least one community contact uniquely associated with them in Public Health records. Contacts included had non-overlapping periods of exposure to SARS index cases within 10 days, as previously reported [23]. The total number of community contacts associated with these index cases, for this analysis, was 8,498. This number excluded health care providers who were contacts of those SARS index cases only as a result of providing care to SARS cases, but included health care workers exposed through social or family contacts. Community contacts were classified by closest level of exposure to the index case (e.g., level 1 being closest at ≥30 minutes within a distance of one metre [23]). For all community contacts, outcome status as a secondary SARS case was defined [23]. We also consider data for an additional 140 individuals who were quarantined as contacts of a known SARS case, became ill and were considered to be potential cases themselves, but who subsequently had SARS ruled out. These additional 140 observations were used only in sensitivity analyses.
Analysis
In the first step, we carried out an analysis where the 8,498 individual contacts were treated as the unit of analysis. The outcome was whether or not each contact became a SARS case (binary outcome). The predictor variable of interest was whether the associated index case had been in community quarantine at symptom onset. This, seemingly intuitive, analysis treats the individuals in whom the outcome is measured as though they were assigned to treatment conditions. Therefore, information regarding quarantine status is used only from the 204 SARS index cases with one or more community contacts. In place of typical logistic regression which would yield an odds ratio (OR), we obtained risk difference (naïve secondary attack rate difference - ignoring index cases with no contacts) as the measure of association, using a generalized linear regression model with binomial error term and identity link function. Clustering of multiple contacts to index cases was accounted for using robust variance estimates [24, 25].
In the next step, we treated all 332 SARS index cases as the unit of analysis and applied Poisson regression analysis to model the number of secondary cases per index case. As before, the exposure of interest is whether or not the index case was quarantined. We calculated several measures of association to describe the difference in transmission observed in the quarantine and non-quarantine group. These included the secondary case count ratio or SSCR, the ratio of secondary cases (per index case) in the quarantine condition relative to the non-quarantine condition. The SSCR is a function of the ratio of secondary cases per quarantined index case (SC_{q}) and of the ratio of secondary cases per non-quarantined index case (SC_{nq}) as discussed below. We also calculated the difference in average secondary cases per index case between the two groups (secondary case count difference, SCCD), and the inverse of the SCCD which we label as "NNQ".
Secondary Case Count Ratio (SCCR) was estimated using the most familiar form of Poisson regression (Poisson error term and the canonical log link function) [26]. Poisson regression is often used to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs), where the outcome variable is the numerator for a rate in a stable population, or where a variable person-time denominator is accounted for by specifying an offset variable for the model. IRR is equal to the exponent of the beta coefficient for the regression term of interest [26, 27]. For Poisson models used here, no offset was specified for the number of community contacts at risk for each index case. Said differently, the outcome variable here is not the rate of secondary transmission among a variable number of potentially exposed community contacts per index case, but the number of secondary SARS cases arising from an index case. The SCCR is the exponentiated beta term for this model (where quarantine status was entered as a binary variable). SCCR is the ratio of (secondary cases per quarantined index case, SC_{q}) to (secondary cases per non-quarantined index case, SC_{nq}); therefore, SCCR = SC_{q}/SC_{nq}.
Additional analysis quantified the degree to which reduction in total contacts, and close contacts, mediated the impact of quarantine. An estimate of the reduction in size of the SCCR was tested against a null (no change) using a bootstrap method [29]. This mediation analysis was carried out using the canonical (log link) Poisson regression model, above.
For the sensitivity analysis, we re-estimated SCCD and NNQ including data for an additional 140 case observations. This group consisted of quarantined contacts who were, prospectively, under suspicion of being SARS cases themselves (i.e., during the outbreak), but in whom SARS was later excluded. These people also had at least one community contact themselves, in order to be included in the database. This sensitivity analysis was to show the effect of false positive index cases on apparent outcomes of quarantine.
For all regression models, diagnostics were performed. This included post-fit examination for non-linearity for ordinal independent variables (i.e., numbers of contact by level of exposure). Where found, non-linearity was corrected by taking a linear transformation of the predictor variable to obtain normally distributed residuals. Nonnormality of residuals in models including total contacts was corrected by transforming the total number of the contacts (replaced with square root of value) to reduce the influence of the positive skew in this covariate. For all models using the Poisson error term, tests for over-dispersion were carried out. Identical models using the negative binomial error term were also run, correcting for over-dispersion. Both are presented.
Because of the limited sample size, confidence limits based on large sample assumptions are questionable. Therefore, we also present confidence intervals estimated using bootstrap variance estimation [30]. For bootstrapping, 5000 replications were used in all cases. All analyses were carried out with Stata, Version 10 [25].
This study received ethical review and approval from the Health Sciences I Research Ethics Committee of the University of Toronto (Protocol #10764).
Results
Numbers of index SARS cases* and non-overlapping contacts† associated with index cases.
Quarantine status | N of SARS probable and suspect index cases† | N of SARS index cases with no community contacts | N of SARS index cases with at least one community contact at any level | Group total numbers of community contacts (and secondary cases) by level of contact‡§ | ||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
All levels | Level 1 | Level 2A | Level 2B | Level 3 | ||||
Not in quarantine at symptom onset | 267 | 89 | 178 | 7970 (52) | 578 (37) | 3186 (14) | 1258 (1) | 2948 (0) |
In quarantine prior to symptom onset | 65 | 39 | 26 | 528 (4) | 52 (2) | 164 (1) | 297 (1) | 15 (0) |
Total | 332 | 128 | 204 | 8498 (56) | 630 (39) | 3483 (15) | 1555 (2) | 2963 (0) |
Quantitative measures of the impact of quarantine on secondary cases in the community*.
Analysis approach | Measure of association obtained from model | Variance estimation method | Estimated value of measure of association | p-value | 95% confidence interval | |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
Lower limit | Upper limit | |||||
A) Generalized linear model with binomial error and identity link (additive logistic). Unit of analysis is community contacts, clustered within shared 204 index cases. (N = 8498). | Naïve Secondary Attack Rate Difference (incorporates information only for 204 index cases with one or more community contact; see text) | Asymptotic: Bootstrapped: | 0.00105 0.00105† | 0.786 0.881 | -0.00665 -0.01269 | 0.00866 0.01479 |
B) Canonical Poisson and negative binomial regression with log link functions. Unit of analysis is all index cases. (N = 332). | Beta coefficient | Poisson, asymptotic: Neg.Binomial asymptotic: Poisson, bootstrapped: | -1.15209 -1.15209 -1.15209† | 0.026 0.057 0.589 | -2.16906 -2.33953 -5.32984 | -0.13511 0.03535 3.02567 |
Secondary Case Count Ratio (SCCR) (SCCR = exponentiated Beta for quarantine) | Poisson, asymptotic: Neg.Binomial asymptotic: Poisson, bootstrapped: | 0.31598 0.31598 0.31598† | 0.026 0.057 0.573 | 0.11428 0.09637 0.00577 | 0.87362 1.03599 17.30158 | |
C) Generalized linear model with Poisson error term and identity link function, yielding an additive effect measure. | Secondary Case Count Difference (SCCD).(SCCD = Beta coefficient for quarantine) | Poisson, asymptotic: Neg.Binomial, asymptotic Poisson, bootstrapped: | -0.13322 -0.13322 -0.13322† | 0.001 0.002 1.000 | -0.21346 -0.21812 -1.18 × 10 ^{ 14 } | -0.05298 -0.04832 1.18 × 10 ^{ 14 } |
Unit of analysis is all index cases. (N = 332). | Number needed to quarantine (NNQ). (NNQ = 1/|SCCD|, above) | Poisson, asymptotic: Neg.Binomial, asymptotic: Poisson, bootstrapped: | 7.50647 7.50648 7.50647† | 0.001 0.002 1.000 | 4.68469 4.58462 -8.476 × 10 ^{ -15 } | 18.87661 20.69733 8.476 × 10 ^{ -15 } |
The first model treating index cases as the unit of analysis (Approach B in Table 2) yields an estimate of SCCR of 0.316 indicating less than one third the number of secondary cases for quarantined versus non-quarantined index cases. Approach C provides the estimated SCCD obtained using an additive Poisson regression model (Poisson error term and identity link function). The average difference in secondary SARS cases in moving from non-quarantine to quarantine status is estimated at 0.133 secondary cases per index case. The final estimate in Table 2 is NNQ suggesting 7.51 SARS index cases be placed under quarantine to reduce the number of secondary cases by one. When variance estimates and confidence intervals are estimated using a large-sample assumption (asymptotic variance) all Poisson regression models presented were statistically significant. When negative binomial regression was used to estimate SCCR, this became non-significant (p = 0.057). When using bootstrap variance methods, confidence intervals for all estimates became very wide and none of these estimates were significantly different from the null value.
Assessment of whether number and level of contacts mediate the effect of quarantine on secondary cases.
Term in adjusted model* (contrasts with crude model B, in Table 2) | Secondary Case Count Ratio (SCCR) | p-value under large sample assumption and using bootstrapped variance estimate (in italics) | 95% confidence interval under large sample assumption and using bootstrapped variance estimate (in italics) | |
---|---|---|---|---|
Lower limit | Upper limit | |||
Quarantine (v. no) | 0.3524498 | 0.046 0.550 | 0.1266103 0.0048919 | 0.9811279 20.14694 |
Total contacts (continuous†) | 0.9999988 | 0.657 0.090 | 0.9999937 0.9999816 | 1.000004 1.000017 |
Total close contacts (continuous) | 1.061969 | 0.005 0.009 | 1.018544 1.015351 | 1.107246 1.107246 |
The adjusted models in Table 3 also show that the number of close contacts was a significant predictor of the number of secondary cases, even when adjusting for total number of contacts. This remained statistically significant even in the bootstrapped model.
Finally, the SCCD and NNQ estimates (Table 2) were rerun including 140 additional quarantined false-positive SARS cases with no secondary cases. In this analysis, the NNQ estimate drops from 7.51 to 5.74, giving the appearance of a still greater benefit (data not shown; again, statistically significant under the large sample assumption, and not when using bootstrap methods).
For all Poisson-based analyses, model diagnostics did not indicate significant over-dispersion (p-value > 0.99 in all cases). Using negative binomial models to account for over-dispersion did not affect point estimates, but resulted in slightly wider asymptotic confidence limits (Table 2).
Discussion
How has quarantine been evaluated?
Previous studies evaluating quarantine for control of SARS used two general methods: simulation studies [9, 32, 33]; and, case-study reports describing specific settings (e.g. [22, 34–42]).
Simulation studies serve several purposes in outbreak research, one of which is to estimate the impact of control measures in outbreak scenarios [1, 33]. A review of simulation studies on quarantine effectiveness for SARS has been presented by Bauch and colleagues [9]. This review, and other individual reports [43] suggest that quarantine measures are most effective when mobilized at the very start of the outbreak when numbers are small. While decision-makers must rely heavily on simulation studies, a persistent concern raised [33] is that results are driven by prior assumptions; which may be unrealistic. Simulations rely on some degree of simplification such as considering only point-source outbreaks in non-overlapping populations. More sophisticated models incorporate heterogeneity in parameters including variations in size and behaviour of human contact networks, differences in transmissibility due to the host, and levels of adherence with control measures, such that scenarios simulated reflect what happens in real-world experiences [4, 33, 44, 45]. Simulation studies, typically, do not present impact statistics familiar to health policy makers, and may not provide evidence as compelling to decision-makers as real world outbreak experiences. To give an example, a recent World Health Organization review on control measures for influenza cited no simulation studies but only real-world observational data [46].
Quarantine-related studies from real SARS outbreaks typically present the epidemic curve with case counts plotted against the timeline of events including arrival of index cases, and changes in public health response. In many reports [22, 34, 39, 40], the impact of control measures is implied from qualitative observation, such as visible deceleration of new cases in plots, or the eventual end of the outbreak. Some of these reports appeared well after the outbreak, with efforts made to complete data on onset dates and transmission in hindsight (e.g., [42]). Drawing inference from epidemic curves suits only point-source outbreaks, and amount to one-group, pre-test post-test designs [47], providing weak evidence for causation. The true value of case reports, arguably, is the rich contextual information on challenges faced and unexpected events, and showing socio-political feasibility of aggressive control across settings [40].
Some case reports have taken a more quantitative approach. A few studies reported on the effect of quarantine in shortening the time from onset of symptoms to isolation [48], or the proportion of SARS cases who developed symptoms while already under quarantine [49]. Others report quarantine yield (the proportion of individuals quarantined who eventually develop SARS) [36], which reflects specificity of contact tracing versus burden from unnecessary quarantine. These are intermediate outcomes, however, evaluating processes as opposed to final outcomes.
In others, control interventions are examined pre- post-quarantine in relation to subsequent changes in R [4, 43]. Wallinga and Teunis, 2004 [43], present the average daily effective reproductive number, R, both prior to alert and after, for each of four SARS outbreak locations. Table 1 of their analysis reveals fairly consistent transmission numbers pre-alert, but more variable R values post-alert, highlighting less effective control in Ontario relative to elsewhere. This is also an uncommon example of presentation of R estimates along with confidence limits from observed (as opposed to simulated) data. Their analysis would permit reporting of differences in transmissions before and after alert, but no reduction in R attributable to control was presented (with or without confidence limits). The approach also permitted no consideration of individual-level covariates.
Quantitative estimates of quarantine impact
We estimated that use of community quarantine in the 2003 Ontario SARS outbreak reduced transmission to one third, with an absolute difference of 0.13 secondary cases per index case under quarantine, relative to not quarantined by symptom onset. For discussion purposes, we present several effect measures, including Secondary Case Count Difference (SCCD) and "number needed to quarantine" (NNQ), a novel adaptation of NNT. Our point estimate of NNQ for the Ontario outbreak was 7.5 persons in quarantine to one SARS case averted using data from probable or suspected SARS cases. As a point estimate, this NNQ compares very favourably with NNTs reported for public health interventions such as chemoprophylaxis for leprosy [50] and meningococcal disease [51], or vaccination against pertussis [52] and influenza and pneumococcal disease [53], particularly with a condition like SARS with significant morbidity and a high case-fatality rate. All estimates we present for the impact of quarantine, however, are imprecise. Bootstrapped confidence intervals include values for no impact. Statistical power is a limitation to this and many analyses of real outbreak data.
We also show, not surprisingly for an infection now known to be transmitted by droplet spread, a statistically significant association between the number of close contacts and number of secondary cases, per index case. Number of close contacts (level 1 in Table 1) had some overlap with the observed (non-significant) effect of quarantine, whereas the number of more distant contacts was unrelated to any apparent benefit of quarantine. Our analysis also suggests (without statistical significance) that reduction in the number of close contacts contributed to reduction in spread, and this may have implications for targeting of quarantine toward closer contacts [23, 36].
Statistical challenges
Research in quarantine effectiveness presents many challenges. One complication is the unit of analysis for the outcome relative to the intervention. Clinical decision-making looks at outcomes in the same individuals assigned to treatment. Interventions such as vaccination are more complex in that outcomes may be assessed at the individual or population level, with different implications, although the individual vaccinated is part of the same population. Number Needed to Vaccinate (NNV) has been estimated incorporating herd immunity [52]. The case of quarantine is distinct even from vaccination, in that all potential benefit is to other persons. It is theoretically possible to study sets of index cases and their contacts as independent units of analysis, although it is often difficult to identify precisely which persons exposed which others [43]. Here, we have worked with contacts matched to an exclusive index case [23]. The creation of sets of cases and associated controls goes only part-way toward a complete network-based analysis [33], although future studies could address non-independence of networks.
A second challenge to evaluators might be non-familiarity with regression models for count data. The generalized linear model used here to obtain an NNQ estimate, with a Poisson error term and identity link function, is less commonly used, but long-described in biostatistics texts. Regression models used here are available in all major statistical packages (Stata, SAS, SPSS and others). The distribution of secondary cases (per index case) may be positively skewed (with a few cases generating large numbers of transmissions [4]). Over-dispersion may need to be addressed through means such as use of negative binomial models in place of Poisson models, as above. Negative binomial models have interpretation very similar to Poisson models [26].
Statistical power was a limitation of our analysis and most studies of real outbreaks [54]. As the goal of outbreak management is to minimize events, small samples must be considered. Procedures assuming large samples tend to overstate precision relative to bootstrapping. Other authors in this field have used bootstrap variance methods as well [42].
Methodological challenges
Random assignment of individuals to quarantine is not ethical; and in some jurisdictions, comprehensive quarantine procedures may eliminate any control arm [4]. In North America and Europe, voluntary quarantine practices are favoured and some degree of non-adherence is inevitable [6, 22], so both non-quarantined and quarantined groups will be observed. However, selection bias related to health status, employment, family structure and other factors may confound the association between quarantine status and observed transmissions. The best possible observational design would permit evaluation of the decision made by public health officials to place individuals under quarantine and apply analyses based on both the intention to treat approach and taking compliance into account.
Retrospectively, we explored the possibility of identifying all individuals screened by public health staff for potential quarantine and contact tracing, regardless of final disposition. This was not feasible. Practices varied with respect to when a record was initiated (i.e., in one health unit a file might have been opened even with an unfounded inquiry, elsewhere a record was generated only with a confirmed contact link and symptoms). Within Public Health records, we were able to confirm 140 quarantined false positive "cases". These cases were quarantined contacts who became ill with possible SARS symptoms but were subsequently excluded as SARS cases, and they had at least one identified community contact. Future cost-benefit studies should include information on such groups (e.g., [36]). Legitimate costs are incurred for and by these false positive cases and their contacts which should be taken into account. Because people without the disease can't spread it, uneven distribution of such individuals across infection control conditions being compared could bias estimates of impact. As we found, the rate of false positive cases (resulting in no transmission) may have a large influence on the apparent benefit. Several case-reports discussed problems with prospective record-keeping, in terms of detailed contact tracing and the implications of time-lags in serological testing (including those never tested), as challenges to both outbreak management and research [4, 35, 41].
Measurement error is also likely with other important information, such as documenting level of contact and therefore numbers of individuals at risk by contact level. With delayed contact tracing, assignment of contact level may even be done after secondary infection (unblinded) and so could be biased toward closer contact where transmission already happen, and toward less close contact where the contact remained well.
Papers on the SARS experience have spoken about the importance of data management resources and described core data to be tracked during an outbreak (e.g., [55]). None made explicit recommendations for statistical evaluation of control measures. Planning to report statistics familiar to other areas of health care evaluation may improve the quality and comparability of data collected.
Our approach demonstrates that existing outbreak data may yield more information to evaluate outbreak control measures than has been reported. Further research, presenting quantitative differences in outcomes attributable to measures such as quarantine, would be useful in many ways. First, this would add to evidence on cost-effectiveness. Second, it would facilitate further methodological development in this field. Pooled re-analysis of existing outbreak data across several settings, would ameliorate statistical power problems, and increase the scientific contribution from these important databases.
Challenges in interpretation and communication
Policy-makers rely on estimates of the impact of population-based preventive measures, which should derive from actual experience, as well as theoretical forecasting. Evidence also needs to be understood. It has been debated whether the NNT statistic achieves its goal to facilitate decision-making in other health care settings [17–20]. Further thought and discussion are needed as to how meaningful a NNQ statistic might be for decision-making in outbreak planning, relative to other expressions of attributable case reductions, such as SCCD also proposed here, or other metrics.
No variant on attributable risk difference or NNT can be interpreted without consideration of the absolute costs of not acting, and the harm side of the decision [56]. This discussion must include the severity of the illness, as well as harms of intervention to the individual and society which are difficult to quantify and value-laden [6]. Quarantine includes potential non-health related harms including civil liberties and may include economic and other costs to the individual [57].
Finally, studies to evaluate control measures for one agent may not be generalizable to other agents. Measures to restrict close contact probably made an important contribution to the control of SARS outbreaks [46]. Evidence of this is accumulating slowly and should be taken into consideration for future outbreaks of SARS or similar droplet spread agents without significant transmission in the asymptomatic phase. However, the applicability of this evidence to the current experience with pandemic influenza is less certain. Ferguson et al [58] present simulation data suggesting community quarantine and isolation may play a role in influenza control but comment that this would presume such measures were feasible. Transmission patterns for influenza however, make it less likely that contact tracing and quarantine would be fast enough to avoid transmission which is greatest in the earliest stage of infection [46]. Under such circumstances, use of a 'severe' [57] measure such as quarantine is likely not justified where such efforts are likely to yield little benefit.
Conclusions
Relative to other health policy areas, literature on quarantine tends to lack in quantitative expressions of effectiveness, or agreement on how best to report differences in outcomes attributable to control measure. The study of quarantine effectiveness presents several methodological and statistical challenges. Further research and discussion are needed to understand the costs and benefits of enacting quarantine, and this includes a discussion of how quantitative benefit should be communicated to decision-makers and the public, and evaluated.
Declarations
Acknowledgements
This study was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Authors’ Affiliations
References
- Heymann D: Introduction. Emerging Infectious Disease from the Global to the Local Perspective. Edited by: Davis JR, Lederberg J. 2001, Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press, 29-34.Google Scholar
- Barbera J, Macintyre A, Gostin L, Inglesby T, O'Toole T, DeAtley C, Tonat K, Layton M: Large-Scale Quarantine Following Biological Terrorism in the United States: Scientific Examination, Logistic and Legal Limits, and Possible Consequences. JAMA. 2001, 286: 2711-2717. 10.1001/jama.286.21.2711.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Singer PA, Benatar SR, Bernstein M, Daar AS, Dickens BM, MacRae SK, Upshur REG, Wright L, Shaul RZ: Ethics and SARS: lessons from Toronto. BMJ. 2003, 327: 1342-1344. 10.1136/bmj.327.7427.1342.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Anderson RM, Fraser C, Ghani AC, Donnelly CA, Riley S, Ferguson NM, Leung GM, Lam TH, Hedley AJ: Epidemiology, Transmission Dynamics and Control of SARS: The 2002-2003 Epidemic. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2004, 359 (1447): 1091-1105. 10.1098/rstb.2004.1490.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Reich DS: Modernizing local responses to public health emergencies: Bioterrorism, epidemics, and the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act. Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy. 2003, 19: 379-414.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lemon SM, Hamburg MA, Sparling PF, Choffnes ER, Mack A: Ethical and legal considerations in mitigating pandemic disease: workshop summary. 2007, Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine. National Academy of SciencesGoogle Scholar
- Schabas R: Severe acute respiratory syndrome: Did quarantine help?. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2004, 15 (4): 204-PubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Knobler S, Mahmoud A, Lemon S, Pray L, Eds: The Global Application of Knowledge, Tools, and Technology: Opportunities and Obstacles. The Impact of Globalization on Infectious Disease Emergence and Control: Exploring the Consequences and Opportunities Workshop Report. 2006, Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 80-124.
- Bauch CT, Lloyd-Smith JO, Coffee MP, Galvani AP: Dynamically Modeling SARS and Other Newly Emerging Respiratory Illnesses: Past, Present and Future. Epidemiology. 2005, 16: 791-801. 10.1097/01.ede.0000181633.80269.4c.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bensimon CM, Upshur RE: Evidence and effectiveness in decision making for quarantine. American Journal of Public Health. 2007, 97: S44-S48. 10.2105/AJPH.2005.077305.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Egger M, Davey Smith G, Altman DG: Systematic Reviews in Health Care: Meta-analysis in context. 2001, London: BMJ Books, 2View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Petitti DB: Meta-Analysis, Decision Analysis, and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: Methods for Quantitative Synthesis in Medicine. 2000, Oxford: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
- Gray JAM: Using systematic reviews for evidence based policy making. Systematic Reviews in Health Care: Meta-Analysis in Context. Edited by: Egger M, Davey Smith G, Altman DG. 2000, Oxford: BMJ Books, 410-418. 2Google Scholar
- Gray JAM: Evidence-based healthcare: how to make health policy and management decisions. 1997, London: Churchill LivingstoneGoogle Scholar
- Greenland S, Rothman JK, Lash TL: Measures of Effect and Measures of Association. Modern Epidemiology. Edited by: Rothman JK, Greenland S, Lash TL. 2008, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 51-70. 3Google Scholar
- Altman DG, Schulz KF, Moher D, Egger M, Davidoff F, Elbourne DR, Gøtzsche PC, Lang T, for the CONSORT group: The revised CONSORT statement for reporting randomized trials: explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2001, 134: 663-694.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bender R: Number Needed to Treat (NNT). Encyclopedia of Biostatistics. Edited by: Armitage P, Colton T. 2009, Chichester: Wiley, 2Google Scholar
- Cook RJ, Sackett DK: The number needed to treat: a clinically useful measure of treatment effect. BMJ. 1995, 310: 452-454.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- McAlistser FA: The "number needed to treat" turns 20 - and continues to be used and misused. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2008, 179: 549-553. 10.1503/cmaj.080484.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Freemantle N, Mason JM, Eccles M: Deriving treatment recommendations from evidence within randomised trials: the role and limitation of meta analysis. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care. 1999, 15: 304-315.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Anderson RM, May RM: Infectious diseases of humans: dynamics and control. 1991, Oxford: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
- Svoboda T, Henry B, Shulman L, Kennedy E, Rea E, Ng W, Wallington T, Yaffe B, Gournis E, Vicencio E, et al: Public Health Measures to Control the Spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome during the Outbreak in Toronto. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2004, 350: 2352-2361. 10.1056/NEJMoa032111.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Rea E, Laflèche J, Stalker S, Guarda BK, Shapiro H, Johnson I, Bondy SJ, Upshur R, Russell ML, Eliasziw M: Duration and distance of exposure are important predictors of transmission among community contacts of Ontario SARS cases. Epidemiology and Infection. 2007, 135: 914-921. 10.1017/S0950268806007771.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Rogers WH: Regression standard errors in clustered samples. Stata Technical Bulletin. 1993, 13: 19-23.Google Scholar
- StataCorp: Stata Statistical Software: Release 10 (SE). 2007, College Station, TX: StataCorp LPGoogle Scholar
- Agresti A: Categorical Data Analysis. 2002, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Seeber GUH: Poisson Regression. Encyclopedia of Biostatistics. Edited by: Armitage P, Colton T. 2009, Chichester: Wiley, 2Google Scholar
- North D: Number needed to treat. BMJ. 1995, 310: 1269-View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Shrout PE, Bolger N: Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: new procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods. 2002, 7: 422-445. 10.1037/1082-989X.7.4.422.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Efron B, Tibshirani RJ: An Introduction to the Bootstrap. 1993, New York: Chapman & HallView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Baron RM, Kenny DA: The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1986, 51 (6): 1173-1182. 10.1037/0022-3514.51.6.1173.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hsieh YH, King CC, Chen CWS, Ho MS, Hsu SB, Wu YC: Impact of quarantine on the 2003 SARS outbreak: A retrospective modeling study. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 2007, 244: 729-736. 10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.09.015.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Epstein JM: Remarks on the role of modeling in infectious disease mitigation and containment. Ethical and legal considerations in mitigating pandemic disease: workshop summary. Edited by: Lemon SM, Hamburg MA, Sparling PF, Choffnes ER, Mack A. 2007, Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine. National Academy of Sciences, 105-112.Google Scholar
- Bell DM, World Health Working Group on International and Community Transmission of SARS: Public health interventions and SARS spread, 2003. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2004, 10: 1900-1906.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Chau PH, Yip PSF: Monitoring the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic and assessing effectiveness of interventions in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2003, 57: 766-769. 10.1136/jech.57.10.766.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Ooi PL, Lim S, Chew SK: Use of quarantine in the control of SARS in Singapore. American Journal of Infection Control. 2005, 33: 252-257. 10.1016/j.ajic.2004.08.007.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ou J, Li Q, Zeng G, Dun Z, Qin A: Efficiency of quarantine during an epidemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome--Beijing, China, 2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2003, 52: 1037-Google Scholar
- Pang X, Zhu Z, Xu F, Guo J, Gong X, Liu D, Liu Z, Chin DP, Feikin DR: Evaluation of Control Measures Implemented in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Outbreak in Beijing, 2003. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003, 290: 3215-3221. 10.1001/jama.290.24.3215.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Riley S, Fraser C, Donnelly CA, Ghani AC, Abu-Raddad LJ, Hedley AJ, Leung GM, Ho LM, Lam TH, Thach TQ, et al: Transmission Dynamics of the Etiological Agent of SARS in Hong Kong: Impact of Public Health Interventions. Science. 2003, 300: 1961-1966. 10.1126/science.1086478.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- S.A.R.S. Investigation Team from D.M.E.R.I. and S. G. H.: Strategies adopted and lessons learnt during the severe acute respiratory syndrome crisis in Singapore. Reviews in Medical Virology. 2005, 15: 57-70. 10.1002/rmv.458.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Tuan PA, Horby P, Dinh PN, Mai LTQ, Zambon M, Shah J, Huy VQ, Bloom S, Gopal R, Comer J, Plant A: SARS transmission in Vietnam outside of the health-care setting. Epidemiology and Infection. 2007, 135: 392-401. 10.1017/S0950268806006996.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Yip P-S, Hsieh YH, Xu Y, Lam KF, King CC, Chang HL: Assessment of Intervention Measures for the 2003 SARS Epidemic in Taiwan by Use of a Back Projection Method. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. 2007, 28: 525-530. 10.1086/516656.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Wallinga J, Teunis P: Different Epidemic Curves for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Reveal Similar Impacts of Control Measures. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2004, 160: 509-516. 10.1093/aje/kwh255.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Castillo-Chavez C, Castillo-Garsow CW, Yakubu AA: Mathematical Models of Isolation and Quarantine. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003, 290: 2876-2877. 10.1001/jama.290.21.2876.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Timpka T, Ericksson H, Gursky EA, Nyce JM, Morin M, Jenvald J, Stromgren M, Holm E, Ekberg J: Population - based simulations of influenza pandemics: validity and significance for public health policy. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2009, 87: 305-311. 10.2471/BLT.07.050203.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization Writing Group: Nonpharmaceutical interventions for pandemic influenza, international measures. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2006, 12: 81-87.View ArticlePubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Cook TD, Campbell DT: Quasi-Experimentation: Designs & Analysis Issues for Field Settings. 1979, Boston: Houghton Mifflin CompanyGoogle Scholar
- Hsieh YH, King CC, Chen CW, Ho MS, Lee YJ, Liu FC, Wu YC, Julian Wu JS: Quarantine for SARS, Taiwan. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2005, 11: 278-282.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Wang TH, Wei KC, Hsiung CA, Maloney SA, Eidex RB, Posey DL, Chou WH, Shih WY, Kuo HS: Optimizing severe acute respiratory syndrome response strategies: lessons learned from quarantine. American Journal of Public Health. 2007, 97: S98-S100. 10.2105/AJPH.2005.082115.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Moet FJ, Pahan D, Oskam L, Richardus JH, CSG: Effectiveness of single dose rifampicin in preventing leprosy in close contacts of patients with newly diagnosed leprosy: cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2008, 336: 761-764. 10.1136/bmj.39500.885752.BE.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Purcell B, Samuelsson S, Hahne SJM, Ehrhard I, Heuberger S, Camaroni I, Charlett A, Stuart JM: Effectiveness of antibiotics in preventing meningococcal disease after a case: systematic review. BMJ. 2004, 328: 1339-10.1136/bmj.328.7452.1339.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Van Rie A, Hethcote HW: Adolescent and adult pertussis vaccination: computer simulations of five new strategies. Vaccine. 2004, 22: 3154-3165. 10.1016/j.vaccine.2004.01.067.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kelly H, Attia J, Andrews R, Heller RF: The number needed to vaccinate (NNV) and population extensions of the NNV: comparison of influenza and pneumococcal vaccine programmes for people aged 65 years and over. Vaccine. 2004, 22: 2192-2198. 10.1016/j.vaccine.2003.11.052.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Cai QC, Xu QF, Xu JM, Guo Q, Cheng X, Zhao GM, Sun QW, Lu J, Jiang QW: Refined Estimate of the Incubation Period of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Related Influencing Factors. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2006, 163: 211-216. 10.1093/aje/kwj034.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Scott RD, Gregg E, Meltzer MI: Collecting data to assess SARS interventions.(Dispatches). Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2004, 10: 1290-View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Sinclair JC, Cook RJ, Guyatt GH, Pauker SG, Cook DJ: When should an effective treatment be used? Derivation of the threshold number needed to treat and the minimum event rate for treatment. J Clin Epidemiol. 2001, 54: 253-262. 10.1016/S0895-4356(01)00347-X.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Gostin L: Public Health Strategies for Pandemic Influenza: Ethics and the Law. JAMA. 2006, 295: 1700-1704. 10.1001/jama.295.14.1700.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ferguson NM, Cummings DAT, Fraser C, Cajka JC, Cooley PC, Burke DS: Strategies for mitigating an influenza pandemic. Nature. 2006, 442: 448-452. 10.1038/nature04795.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/9/488/prepub
Pre-publication history
Copyright
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.