WASHINGTON (AP) - President George W. Bush gave health officials authority Friday to quarantine Americans sick with the highly contagious new mystery illness.
Health officials have no immediate plans to use the new powers in fighting severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. In an executive order signed Friday, Bush added SARS to the list of diseases for which health authorities have authority to involuntarily quarantine Americans.
It's the first time a new disease has been added to the list in two decades.
"If spread in the population," the order says, SARS "would have severe public health consequences."
Several diseases have long been on the list for which quarantine may be used: cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever and several viral hemorrhagic fevers.