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Specific Laws and Regulations Governing the Control of Communicable Diseases

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has statutory responsibility for preventing the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases in the United States. Under its delegated authority, the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine works to fulfill this responsibility through a variety of activities, including

  • the operation of Quarantine Stations at ports of entry
  • establishment of standards for medical examination of persons destined for the United States, and
  • administration of interstate and foreign quarantine regulations, which govern the international and interstate movement of persons, animals, and cargo.

The legal foundation for these activities is found in Titles 8 and 42 of the U.S. Code and relevant supporting regulations.

Legal Authorities for Isolation and Quarantine

The federal government derives its authority for isolation and quarantine from the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Read more on the Legal Authorities for Isolation and Quarantine page.

United States Federal Laws and Regulations for Control of Communicable Diseases

United States Code

The United States Code is a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States. Sections 264-272 of the following portion of the code apply: Title 42 - The Public Health and Welfare, Chapter 6A - Public Health Service, Subchapter II - General Powers and Duties, Part G - Quarantine and Inspection. Links are provided by the Government Printing Office.

Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the official and complete text of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register. These regulations are established by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. The CFR is divided into various titles that represent broad subject areas of Federal regulation. CDC's regulations fall under Title 42: Public Health, Chapter 1 - Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services.

Links are from the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration on the United States Government Printing Office web site. Specifically, Parts 70 and 71 of the following portion of the CFR apply:

Recent Updates

Final Rule on Regulations for the Importation of Nonhuman Primates

On February 15, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a final rule that revises HHS/CDC Regulation 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.53, the regulations for importation of nonhuman primates (NHPs) into the United States. The final rule clarifies the process for importing NHPs and explains all requirements importers must follow to prevent the spread of disease from NHPs to humans. The final rule is effective beginning April 16, 2013.

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Regulations to Establish a User Fee for Filovirus Testing of Nonhuman Primates

On February 12, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a final rule establishing a user fee for filovirus testing of nonhuman primates (NHPs). According to the final rule, CDC will charge a $540 user fee to cover the costs for testing of NHP samples submitted to the CDC. Filovirus antigen-capture testing is required for all Old World NHPs that die for any reason other than trauma during the mandatory 31-day quarantine period or that have illness consistent with filovirus infection. This rule became effective on March 14, 2013.

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Regulations to Establish a User Fee for Filovirus Testing of Nonhuman Primates

On December 26, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted two direct final rules to the Federal Register that amend the Interstate and Foreign Quarantine Regulations. The public comment period through a simultaneously published notice of proposed rulemaking ended on January 25, 2013. The updates reorganize the Scope and Definitions for 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 70 (Interstate Quarantine) and 42 CFR Part 71 (Foreign Quarantine) to reflect modern terminology and plain language used by industry and public health partners. The final rules are effective as of February 25, 2013.

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Executive Orders

Executive Orders specify the list of diseases for which federal quarantine is authorized, which is required by the Public Health Service Act. On recommendation of the HHS Secretary, the President may amend this list whenever necessary to add new communicable diseases, including emerging diseases that are a threat to public health.

Amendment to Executive Order 13295: Quarantinable Communicable Diseases
Federal Register Archives, signed April 4, 2003 and amended by 13375 on April 1, 2005.

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