Prof. Dr. Gülden Sarıyıldız: “Plague Outbreaks Played an Important Role in the Institutionalization of Quarantine

So, what is quarantine? How did it begin?

The new coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China and spread worldwide and caused more than 500,000 people to become infected and more than 20,000 people to lose their lives, continues to affect the lives of millions of people. The rapid transmission of the disease and the increasing number of casualties is prompting countries to take high-level measures. It is possible that many countries such as Italy, England, Germany take quarantine measures to prevent further spread of the virus. Prof. Dr. Gülden Sarıyıldız made the following explanations: “The quarantine is a health measure taken to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.” Prof. Dr. Gülden Sarıyıldız said that a certain area or place was kept under control and observed by a quarantine measure. The quarantine application was applied for people whose disease symptoms have not been observed, but they were exposed to the infection agent and the quarantine was carried out for people with the possibility of being sick. Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız said that these individuals were kept apart in a specific area during the incubation period of the agent and their movements were restricted.

The Earliest Isolation Applications Were Made in the 7th Century BC

Giving information about the application areas and emergence of quarantine, Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız stated that the places where any of the infectious disease that can lead to epidemic and pandemic outbreaks are the application areas of the quarantine. She highlighted the following points: “All three semitic religions accepted the idea of avoidance and isolation of infectious diseases. However, the earliest applications of isolation took place in the 7th century BC. It was carried out in the cities of Metz, Verdun, and Maastricht for lepers in the century. The development of quarantine structures, which evolved from a simple isolation to a systematic institution, began with the spread of epidemics; plague outbreaks in particular played a very important role for the institutionalization of quarantine.”

Quarantine Organizations in the Ottoman Empire

The term “usul-ı tahaffuz” was used in the Ottoman Empire as the equivalent of quarantine, and “karantinahane” or “tahaffuzhane” was used for quarantine places. Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız stated that the quarantine institutions were responsible for checking the sanitary condition of the ship and its passengers when it docked at a port and for taking the necessary precautions. The land quarantines established on land routes were also close to the border lines on trade routes and facilitated the control of merchants and passengers. Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız underlined that it was very important. Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız said: “Tahaffuzhanes; unlike karantinahanes, were the places where quarantine waiting people or patients were placed, and chemical disinfection procedures were done. These areas have been established to prevent the transmission of an epidemic to a city and region or spread from there to other places. At the entrances and exits of the city, at the major points of the roads reaching the city, the health status of the people who will enter the area was supervised for a certain period. During observation examinations, those who were likely to develop the disease were kept away from the healthy public and treated.

Modern Quarantine Practices Have Been Introduced in the 19th Century

“Since the end of the 14th century, quarantine measures have started to be taken in the eastern Mediterranean ports.” Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız stated that this measure was also strictly applied to road transport in later periods, adding that the first quarantine points were established in Dubrovnik and Venice in 1377. And the first karantinahane / tahaffuzhane was established in 1423 against the plague. Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız said that the first of these organizations was established in Venice on the island of Santa Maria di Nazareth (where ships arriving by sea way were kept on hold and isolated for forty days), the second one in 1467 in Genoa, and the first land tahaffuzhane was established in 1488 in Milan in the Lombardy region of Italy. “The first measures implemented against infectious diseases were, the implementation of the cord procedure and the creation of tahaffuzhanes. The cord procedure was to prevent the disease from spreading out from where it was originated. All suspected cases were cordoned off in homes, hospitals, barracks, and residential areas where the disease occurred. In addition to waiting and observing, modern quarantine practices, including disinfection, medical examination, and treatment, were just introduced in the 19th century with the development of medical science.”

Maiden's Tower Was Used for Plague Patients

Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız said: “The first temporary quarantine in the Ottoman Empire occurred in 1831 when the cholera pandemic reached İstanbul. On the orders of Mahmud, the ships coming to İstanbul from the direction of the Black Sea were applied quarantine, in the Bosphorus and in 1835 it was applied in the Dardanelles due to cholera round Mediterranean. Quarantine practices included disinfecting goods and places, inspection of the dead and rules on burial. The Maiden Tower was also used as a hospital for plague patients for some time. In 1838, a Quarantine Assembly was established in Galata in İstanbul, and quarantine and tahaffuzhanes were established on all Ottoman beaches. From 1838-1842, Kuleli Barracks served as tahaffuzhane. During the Hajj seasons, the Hijaz Medical Council was established to take measures related to the outbreaks in Hijaz and to carry out the health affairs of the pilgrims.”

“At the end of the 19th century, in the Ottoman geography; there were disinfection stations, cholera hospitals and isolation buildings containing Kamaran, Abu Said, Beirut, Klazomen (Urla), Kale-i Sultaniye, Anadolu Kavağı, Sinop, Tebük and such large and important tahaffuzhanes were established.” Prof. Dr. Sarıyıldız concluded her speech with the following statements: “These tahaffuzhanes were important institutions where the cargo of people, animals and cargo-carrying ships, trains were disinfected, and their passengers were observed in isolation.”

News: Tuğçe AYÇİN
Translation: Yasemin UĞURLU
İU Department of Corporate Communication

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