How We Tried To Contain Major Pandemics Throughout Recorded History

A nurse checking on a patient at the Walter Reed Hospital Flu Ward during the influenza pandemic, Washington, D.C., circa 1918. (Harris & Ewing/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

In the last month or so, health officials have touted self-isolation as the key to flattening the curve and stopping the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. According to the government's warnings, anyone who has come in contact with the virus or recently traveled should be quarantined for at least two weeks, while everyone else should avoid close contact with anyone else. These measures are harsh and inconvenient, but history shows us they are nothing new. Let's look at the efforts to contain some of history's most deadly pandemics.