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Emory Law News Center

Faculty and Scholarship

Ebola and the law: a discussion of public health authority and its practical limits

Polly J. Price, Professor of Law |
Ebola-infected patients treated at Emory University Hospital
The Emory medical team maintained its extensive safety procedures throughout the treatment process and is confident that the discharge of these patients poses no public health threat.


This paper provides a brief overview of the various laws and regulatory authority relevant to the control of the Ebola virus in the United States, beginning with the first U.S. Ebola patients treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, as a background for broader discussion. Public health law is a general term for the broad array of laws and regulations that apply to control measures for any infectious disease outbreak. The Ebola virus provides an opportunity to survey the many fields of law responsive to the threat of pandemic disease, including the use of emergency health powers and quarantine authority in the United States.

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