To Report an Illness

  • Division of Emergency Preparedness and Infectious Disease
    Room 106
    Fax: 401-222-2488

Infectious Disease Reporting

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:

  • Foodborne poisoning: the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food;
  • Institutional: cluster of similar illness in institutional settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, schools, day care centers, etc.;
  • Waterborne: at least two persons experiencing a similar illness after ingestion of a common water source and epidemiological evidence that implicates water as the probable source of the illness;
  • Rare and unusual diagnoses, such as avian influenza, smallpox, ebola, SARS, or human rabies are reportable as single cases;
  • Unusual diseases or illness outbreaks that may indicate acts of terrorism using biological agents, such as anthrax, botulism, ricinosis, epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens, and Staphylococcus enterotoxin B and;
  • Any condition compatible with exposure to nuclear, radiological, or chemical substances, which could be indicative of radiological or chemical terrorism events shall also be reportable".

Who must report

  • Physicians
  • Physicians Assistants
  • Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners
  • Midwives
  • Clinical Laboratories
  • Hospitals (from both inpatient and outpatient setting)
  • Facility administrators or Infection Control Practitioners
  • All other Healthcare Facilities+

Who should also report

  • Certified school nurse-teachers
  • Dentists
  • Other entities or persons+

What must be reported

All infectious diseases and conditions defined as of national or state importance must be reported list print version. 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.

What we do

The Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Center for HIV, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases & Tuberculosis Epidemiology, and the Center for COVID-19 Epidemiology analyze 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.

The State of Rhode Island reports all "nationally notifiable conditions" to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.