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Quarantine "is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill.". the term is often erroneously used synonymously with isolation, which is "to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy.". the word comes from the italian (seventeenth century venetian) quarantena, meaning forty-day period. quarantine can be applied to humans, but also to animals of various kinds.