Licensed healthcare professionals and healthcare agencies are required to report selected communicable diseases to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Please refer to Reportable Infectious Diseases (Laws/Regulations). 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 epidemiologic investigation; two (2) 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: 1. Foodborne poisoning: the occurrence of two (2) or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food; 2. Institutional: cluster of similar illness in institutional settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, schools, day care centers, etc.; 3. Waterborne: at least two (2) persons experiencing a similar illness after ingestion of a common water source and epidemiologic evidence that implicates water as the probable source of the illness; 4. A single case of rare and unusual diagnoses, such as avian influenza, smallpox, ebola, SARS, or human rabies; 5. Outbreaks of unusual diseases or illness that may indicateacts of terrorism using biological agents, such as anthrax, botulism, ricinosis, epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens, and Staphylococcus enterotoxin B and 6. any condition compatible withexposure to nuclear, radiological, or chemical substances, which could be indicative of radiological or chemical terrorism events shall also be reportable".
Guidelines for Investigation and Management
Rhode Island school Nurse Teachers Infectious Diseases Reference Manual 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.