Trivia Time - Infectious Diseases Edition!


1.) During the height of the revolutionary war, in 1777, George Washington went against a 1776 proclamation of the Continental Congress and ordered his troops vaccinated against what disease?

Smallpox. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, America was also at the beginning stages of a smallpox epidemic that would last until 1782. Knowing that British soliders had higher rates of immunity to smallpox than his own troops, George Washington was quoted as saying of smallpox "should the disorder infect the Army . . . we should have more to dread from it, than from the Sword of the Enemy." In January of 1777, Washington ordered Dr. William Shippen Jr to innoculate all forces coming through Philadephia. Innoculation, which at that time consisted of scraping pus from the sores of those with mild cases of smallpox onto healthy individuals, was a potentially dangerous procedure. It was for this reason that the 1776 Continental Congress issued a proclamation prohibiting the practice by Army Surgeons. (1,2)

2.) SARS and MERS are both what kind of virus? How are they transmitted?

  • Both are coronaviruses. Both are spread through respiratory droplets.

  • SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is caused by SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The SARS outbreak of 2013 was first reported in Asia in February of 2013. It quickly spread to >24 countries and had an overall mortality of approximately 10%. There have been no documented cases of human infection outside a lab since 2004. (1)

  • MERS (Middle East Respiratory Virus) is caused by, you guessed it, MERS-associated coronavirus (MERS-CoV). MERS was first reported in 2012 (first case in Jordan in April of 2012). Mortality of patients with MERS is 3-4 per 10 patients infected. Incubation period for the illness is 2-12 days and all cases to this point have been associated with travel to the Arabian Pennisula. (2)

Name 2 communicable diseases for which isolation and quarantine can be authorized by the federal government?

"The communicable diseases for which federal isolation and quarantine are authorized are set forth through executive order of the President and include: cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, SARS, and viral hemorrhagic fevers"(1)

  • Source: Fact Sheet on Legal Authorities for Isolation/Quarantine.

What is the primary difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is the separation of individuals who have infectious illnesses from healthy individuals, whereas quarantine refers to the separation of individuals who have been exposed to an illness but are not known to have the illness. (1)