Licensed healthcare professionals and healthcare agencies are required to report selected communicable diseases to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Please refer to Regulations pertaining to the reporting of infectious, environmental and occupational diseases. In addition to reporting individual cases, outbreaks of disease should be reported as follows:
“Any person who is required or recommended to report (cited in sections 2.1 of the reporting regulations above) and has knowledge of an outbreak of infectious disease or a cluster of unexplained illness, infectious or non-infectious, whether or not listed in these regulations, shall promptly report the facts to the Department of Health. Exotic diseases and unusual group expressions of illness which may be of public health concern shall also be reported immediately. The number of cases indicating an outbreak or cluster will vary according to the infectious agent or the conditions/hazards, size and type of population exposed, previous experience or lack of exposure to the disease, and time and place of occurrence. A single case of a communicable disease long absent from a population or the first invasion by a disease not previously recognized in that area requires immediate reporting and epidemiological investigation; two cases of such a disease associated in time and place are sufficient evidence of transmission to be considered an outbreak. Outbreaks or clusters are therefore identified by significant increases in the usual incidence of the disease in the same area, among the specified population, at the same season of the year. Some examples of outbreaks are as follows:
All infectious diseases and conditions defined as of national or state importance must be reported list. Reports for potential agents of bioterrorism and some conditions must be reported immediately. Other diseases must be reported within 4 days. Some conditions require sending a specimen to the Biological Laboratory for confirmation or analysis.
The Division of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology collects and analyzes reports of infectious disease cases in the state to identify outbreaks and/or cases of note to alert the public and health provider community of actions that should be taken to control the spread of disease.
Rhode Island school Nurse Teachers Infectious Diseases Reference Manual 2003 is a RI specific resource for school nurse teachers to respond to common infectious diseases in the school setting. School nurse teachers who recognize outbreaks or unusual disease patterns are urged to report these as well and consult with public health.