Literally translated from the French, a sanitary cordon is a barrier, administrative as well as actual, between a potential source of infection and a susceptible population. Its administrative aspects involve laws and regulations for protection against contagious diseases by means of isolation of infected cases and quarantine of contacts. The actual barrier is the quarantine station or isolation ward in which contagious cases and contacts are held, and the barrier-nursing procedures, aimed at minimizing the risk that an infection will be transmitted. During the influenza pandemic at the end of World War I, many nations attempted to arrest the progress of influenza pandemic by means of a rigorously enforced cordon sanitaire, but all efforts failed. Since then, and especially since the development of modern antibiotics, the cordon sanitaire approach has been little used. The term, and the procedure it embodies, are now mainly of historical interest.
JOHN M. LAST