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11/10/2020 16:30 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Barney Pond in Lincoln. The advisory related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, and...
11/06/2020 16:00 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers to not eat Tanimura and Antle brand romaine lettuce packed as single heads due to food safety concerns. A routine sample of the lettuce collected in Michigan was confirmed positive for E. coli 0157:H7. Further analysis conducted
11/04/2020 16:30 EST
The precautionary boil water notice issued to customers of the Westerly Water Department is lifted. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Westerly Water Department alerted customers to this precautionary boil water notice on November 2nd because of a water main break that had the...
11/02/2020 22:15 EST
Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Issued for Customers of the Westerly Water System The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting customers of the Westerly Water System that they should boil their water before consuming it because of a water main break that could cause loss of water
11/02/2020 17:15 EST
With cases of COVID-19 continuing to increase in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is recommending that all hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living communities restrict visitation for the next two weeks. These recommendations are being made for two weeks as RIDOH
10/28/2020 14:00 EDT
New data from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s Office of the State Medical Examiners (OSME) indicate a sharp increase in accidental drug overdose deaths during the first seven months of 2020. (It can take up to 90 days for the OSME to confirm a decedent's cause and manner of death.)
10/23/2020 10:15 EDT
After inspections by Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force four bars have been fined and temporarily closed because of violations of Rhode Island's COVID-19 health regulations. The fines ranged from $1,050 to $2,450. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the...
10/22/2020 11:45 EDT
As Rhode Island runs its one millionth COVID-19 test, State officials are urging Rhode Islanders to recommit to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including getting tested whenever you are experiencing symptoms and getting tested regularly if you are eligible to participate in Rhode Island'
10/22/2020 10:30 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Lower Melville Pond in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. An advisory for Upper Melville (also known as Thurston Gray)
10/19/2020 16:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that...
10/14/2020 15:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Red Monkey Foods, Inc. is recalling select organic parsley and Herbes de Provence products due to possible Salmonella contamination. The potentially affected products were distributed to all fifty states and to Puerto...
10/12/2020 16:00 EDT
Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force has taken immediate action against four bars for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode...
10/09/2020 16:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Polo and Roosevelt Lakes in Roger Williams Park, Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Edgewood and Pleasure Lakes in...
10/09/2020 14:30 EDT
All State-run COVID-19 testing sites in Rhode Island will be closed on Monday, October 12th. These testing sites include all locations for Rhode Island's dedicated K-12 testing program, the Rhode Island Convention Center, the Cumberland and Newport Stop & Shop testing sites, and the Block...
10/06/2020 08:30 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Seneca Snack Company is recalling Seneca Cinnamon Apple Chips and Clancy's Cinnamon Apple Chips due to possible Salmonella contamination. This recall affects Clancy's products sold by ALDI and Seneca products sold...
10/01/2020 16:15 EDT
Between September 21 and September 27, more than 200 Rhode Island businesses received perfect scores on their compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (...
09/30/2020 14:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Is advising consumers to avoid juices, smoothies, and sea moss gel purchased from Health is Wealth Nutrition Center located at 1674 Cranston Street in Cranston because of the potential for processing, storage, and control issues with these products....
09/29/2020 15:15 EDT
At an outdoor, socially distanced media event today the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) launched a wide-ranging, months-long campaign to get 90% of Rhode Islanders vaccinated against the flu. As Rhode Island continues to respond to COVID-19, flu shots will become available at hundreds...
09/28/2020 09:30 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Mashapaug Pond in Providence due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and...
09/25/2020 08:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Edgewood and Pleasure Lakes in Roger Williams Park, Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce...
09/18/2020 12:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Providence College are responding to an outbreak of COVID-19 among off-campus students near the school. Approximately 120 cases have been identified in the last three days. RIDOH is reminding people who live in the area around Providence College (...
09/18/2020 09:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Slack Reservoir in Smithfield and Johnston. The advisory was related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known...
09/14/2020 07:45 EDT
Rhode Island's comprehensive school testing program is now open and able to provide prompt results to any student, teacher, or staff member at any public or private Pre-K – 12 school throughout the state who needs to be tested for COVID-19. A test can be scheduled seven days a week from 7:30 a.m.
09/10/2020 16:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Spectacle Pond in Cranston and Elm Lake in Roger Williams Park, Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce...
09/04/2020 14:45 EDT
Nearly 300 businesses in sectors such as hospitality, personal services, banking, fitness, and retail received perfect scores on their COVID-19 compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the...
09/03/2020 15:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Barber Pond in South Kingstown and Blackamore Pond in Cranston due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce...
09/02/2020 14:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield. The advisory related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as...
08/27/2020 16:30 EDT
More than 200 businesses in sectors such as retail, fitness, and hospitality received perfect scores on their COVID-19 compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of...
08/25/2020 10:30 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Prima Wawona and Aldi are recalling bagged and loose Wawona and Wawona Organic peaches distributed and sold between June 1 through August 19, 2020 due to possible Salmonella contamination. Aldi has removed the affected...
08/21/2020 16:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Barney Pond in Lincoln due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including...
08/20/2020 14:15 EDT
More than 250 businesses in sectors such as retail, fitness, and hospitality received perfect scores on their COVID-19 compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of...
08/19/2020 17:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Upper Melville (also known as Thurston) Pond in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Signs were posted at the pond...
08/14/2020 15:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville (it spans Smithfield and Johnston town line) due to a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-...
08/13/2020 16:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Kader Exports is recalling frozen cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The shrimp was sold in 1 pound, 1.5 pound, and 2 pound retail bags. The products were...
08/13/2020 10:30 EDT
Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force has issued compliance orders to ten businesses in the last two weeks for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of...
08/07/2020 16:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) have released an Outbreak Response Playbook: Pre K - 12 guide today, providing district and school leaders with guidance on how to respond to various scenarios involving COVID-19 and their students,...
08/04/2020 09:00 EDT
Due to the severe weather anticipated because of Tropical Storm Isaias, the COVID-19 testing site at the Block Island Fire and Rescue Barn will be closed today, Tuesday, August 4th. All appointments have been rescheduled for Thursday, August 6th. Other Rhode Island testing sites will continue on...
08/03/2020 08:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Thomson International Inc. is recalling red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions shipped from May 1, 2020 through the present. The onions are being recalled because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella,
07/29/2020 09:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has issued compliance orders to ten restaurants and bars so far this week for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. Additional compliance orders may be issued. In many instances, inspectors observed staff and
07/28/2020 17:45 EDT
As a part of ongoing efforts to better understand how extreme heat disproportionately impacts communities in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), and American Forests have launched the Rhode Island Heat Watch...
07/24/2020 17:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to protect themselves against the elevated heat indexes forecast for this weekend and the coming week with a few simple health precautions. Extreme heat can be dangerous, particularly for children, older adults, and some
07/24/2020 16:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Upper J.L. Curran Reservoir in Cranston due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm...
07/24/2020 10:45 EDT
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing at the Community College of Rhode Island (Knight Campus) will cease at the end of the day on Sunday, July 26th. This testing site is shifting to the Rhode Island Convention Center, as the Rhode Island College testing site did earlier this week....
07/20/2020 12:30 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that a new Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing site will open tomorrow, July 21st, at the Rhode Island Convention Center, located at 114 West Exchange Street in Providence. This site will replace the current testing site at Rhode...
07/20/2020 11:00 EDT
As a part of the on-going process in Rhode Island to improve medical marijuana product safety and transparency, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has licensed Green Peaks Analytical as the State's first licensed marijuana sampling and testing laboratory. To date, products sold at...
07/17/2020 15:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has been made aware by a private laboratory of 113 false positive COVID-19 test results for Rhode Islanders. This means that these 113 people were told that their results were positive when they were actually negative. Located in New York, this...
07/16/2020 16:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising the public to avoid contact with the water in Stafford Pond in Tiverton. This advisory is being issued because high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria,...

2019 News

Widespread Flu Activity Prompts Healthcare Worker Masking Requirement

2019-12-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that the flu is now "widespread" in Rhode Island, triggering the requirement for unvaccinated healthcare workers in hospitals and many other healthcare facilities to wear masks during direct patient contact.

"The masking requirement helps protect healthcare workers from catching the flu, and helps protect patients who are often dealing with other serious health issues," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it is not too late. Flu vaccination is the single best way to keep yourself and the people you love safe from the flu. Getting vaccinated today will still provide you with months of protection."

Unvaccinated healthcare workers must wear masks when involved in direct patient contact at the types of facilities listed below. Examples of direct patient contact are entering a patient's room, serving food to patients, or participating in group patient activities. The requirement also applies to all licensed Emergency Medical Services (EMS) practitioners who have not been vaccinated against the flu.

Widespread is the highest tier in the five-tier system used to measure flu activity. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and many other states throughout the country are also currently experiencing widespread flu.

The healthcare facilities and organizations to which the masking regulation applies are:

• Adult day care programs

• Assisted living facilities

• CVS Minute Clinics

• Free-standing ambulatory care surgical centers

• Free-standing emergency care facilities

• Home care providers

• Home nursing care providers

• Hospice providers

• Hospitals

• Kidney treatment centers

• Nursing facilities

• Organized ambulatory care facilities

• Physician ambulatory surgery centers

RIDOH is also reminding Rhode Islanders about seeking medical care in the most appropriate setting. Many types of illnesses and injuries do not require an emergency department visit, including flu when the symptoms are not so severe. Going to an emergency department for a case of the flu with symptoms that are not severe will likely result in a long wait because emergency departments prioritize more serious injuries and illnesses. Cases of the flu with symptoms that are not severe are often more quickly treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility. RIDOH has information and lists online for urgent care facilities, as well as for community health centers and other express care facilities in the state.

Some cases of the flu, however, should be treated in an emergency department. Warning signs that indicate that someone with the flu does need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider will be able to provide guidance about the next best step. (Most offices have physicians on-call after hours.)

Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. In addition to healthcare workers, vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, younger children, people over the age of 50, nursing home or group home residents, and people with chronic conditions (such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia, blood disorders, or weakened immune systems). Flu shots are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.

For general health questions, contact the Health Information Line: 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711 or visit http://www.health.ri.gov

Trader Joe's Egg Salad and Potato Salad Recalled

2019-12-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Bakkavor Foods USA is recalling Trader Joe's Egg Salad and Trader Joe's Old Fashioned Potato Salad with "USE BY" date codes up through and including 12/27/19 because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

This recall is taking place due notification by Almark Foods of Gainesville, GA that they supplied certain lots of Broken Egg Whites products in 20-pound pails which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and its association with a Listeria monocytogenes foodborne illness investigation.

Products were distributed to Trader Joe's retail stores in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and many other states. The products come in plastic cups and trays with SKU numbers printed on the labels and "USE BY" date codes applied to top or bottom of the containers. Consumers should discard the product immediately or return it to their point of purchase for a full refund. Customers with questions may contact Bakkavor Foods at (855) 312-7504, Monday through Friday 8:00P.M. - 5:00P.M. PST.

Almark Foods Recalling Hard-Boiled Egg Products

2019-12-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Almark Foods is recalling all hard-boiled eggs manufactured at the company's Gainesville, Georgia facility, including all retail, pillow pack, pouch pack, frozen diced, and protein kit products, due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, a Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

On December 18, 2019 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified Almark Foods that the company's Hard-Boiled and Peeled eggs in pails manufactured at the Gainesville facility may be associated with a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has been linked to several reported illnesses and one reported death. A more recent FDA sample from the facility also matched the outbreak strain, suggesting the possibility that the strain may have remained present in the facility.

Almark is recalling all product packaged for the retail market manufactured at its Gainesville plant that remains within shelf life. This includes product with "Best If Used By" dates up through March 2, 2020. Almark has also temporarily suspended all production at its Gainesville plant. A full product list if available online. (See link below.)

The affected product can be identified by viewing the printed "Best If Used By" date coding on the product package. If the "Best If Used By" code starts with the prefix "G", the product was manufactured at the company's Gainesville, Georgia facility and is subject to this recall. Products with the prefix "N" or "Y" are not subject to this recall. For Protein Kit products, consumers are advised to check the code on the actual egg package within the kit.

RIDOH and DEM Lifting Blue-Green Algae Advisories

2019-12-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are lifting the recreational advisories that have been in place for a number of water bodies throughout Rhode Island because of blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria).

The advisories are being lifted for Paradise Pond in Middletown, Sisson Pond in Portsmouth, Slack Reservoir in Smithfield-Johnston, Pond Carbuncle Pond in Coventry, Almy Pond in Newport, Elm Lake in Providence, JL Curran Resevoir in Cranston, Mashapaug in Providence, Pleasure in Providence, Roosevelt in Providence, and Melville in Portsmouth. An advisory is still in place for Watson Reservoir in Little Compton, where there are still visual signs of a cyanobacteria bloom.

These improvements were expected due to seasonal cooling and declining daylight, and they signal a great reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that toxins are absent, or that a warm spell might not trigger a bloom during the winter or spring. Seasonal monitoring for cyanobacteria in 2019 is finished, but the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae toxins can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.

People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Rhode Islanders Cautioned Against Using Certain Decorative Products on Foods

2019-12-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising home and commercial bakers to avoid using luster dust products to decorate cakes and other food items unless the products are specifically manufactured to be edible. A "non-toxic" label does not indicate that a product is edible.

The shiny decorations on top of cakes, cupcakes, and candies are commonly made using a decorating powder called luster dust. Luster dust is a term to describe a wide range of decorative powders which can be glittery, a shimmery color, or a metallic shade such as gold and bronze. Other names to describe these products include twinkle dust, sparkle dust, highlighter, shimmer powder, pearl dust, and petal dust.

Nationally, bakeries and home bakers have used these non-edible products on baked goods, thinking that a "non-toxic" label indicates that they are safe to eat. Some non-edible luster dust products labeled as "non-toxic" have been found to contain high levels of lead, copper, and other heavy metals. In 2018, an investigation due to illnesses in Rhode Island found that a "non-toxic" luster dust applied to a cake was made almost entirely of copper powder. Consuming luster dusts may lead to illness which varies based on the heavy metal and may include vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, kidney damage, neurological complications, and developmental delays.

Many luster dusts are sold online and in craft and bakery supply stores. A variety of online instructional videos, blogs, and articles also promote the use of these glitters and dusts to decorate foods such as cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops.

If you are buying a baked good, talk to your bakery about the types of decorative products that they use. When in doubt, ask to see the labels of the decorative products to ensure they are edible.

Some glitters and dusts are edible and are produced specifically for use on foods. Most edible glitters and dusts state "edible" on the label. Additionally, companies that make edible glitters and dusts are required by law to include a list of ingredients on the label.

For more information on determining if a luster dust is edible is available online. (see link below)

RIDOH Urges Flu Shots for People Not Yet Vaccinated

2019-12-12

With states in New England and across the country seeing elevated levels of flu activity over the last several weeks, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders who have not yet been vaccinated that flu shots are your best protection against the flu.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, and more than a dozen other states are now reporting widespread flu, which is the highest tier in the five-tier system used to measure flu activity. The flu in Rhode Island is currently regional (the tier just short of widespread). To date, there has been one flu-related death and 24 flu-related hospitalizations in Rhode Island this flu season. During the 2018-2019 flu season, there were 39 deaths and 1,032 hospitalizations associated with the flu.

"After getting a flu shot, it usually takes someone roughly two weeks to start developing the antibodies that provide protection against the flu. For people who have not been vaccinated and who plan to get together with family and friends for the holidays, now is the perfect time to get vaccinated," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "A flu shot can help you avoid serious illness, doctor visits, missed work, or missed school, and it can also help you keep the people you love healthy and safe by reducing the spread of the flu."

Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. Vaccination is particularly important for certain people, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma or diabetes). Even if someone is vaccinated and still gets sick, a flu shot can reduce the severity of that person's illness.

RIDOH is also reminding Rhode Islanders about seeking medical care in the most appropriate setting. Many types of illnesses and injuries do not require an emergency department visit, including flu when the symptoms are not so severe. Going to an emergency department for a case of the flu with symptoms that are not severe will likely result in a long wait because emergency departments prioritize more serious injuries and illnesses. Cases of the flu with symptoms that are not severe are often more quickly treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility. RIDOH has information and lists online for urgent care facilities, as well as for community health centers and other express care facilities in the state. (Link below)

Some cases of the flu, however, should be treated in an emergency department. Warning signs that indicate that someone with the flu does need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider will be able to provide guidance about the next best step. (Most offices have physicians on-call after hours.)

Another common illness this time of year is norovirus, sometimes called the "stomach bug." Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause people to have extreme stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea for 24 to 48 hours. It spreads when people get tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected person in their mouth. This can happen by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus; or if an infected person vomits in a public space.

Steps that people should take to keep themselves and communities healthy and safe from the flu, norovirus, and other viruses include:

- Get vaccinated against the flu. By being vaccinated now, you can still get several months of protection.

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough into your elbow. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Wash your hands carefully with soap and water regularly, especially right after using the toilet or changing diapers, taking or giving someone else medicine, and before eating or preparing food.

- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs frequently.

- Stay out of work or school if you are sick. If you become sick with a flu-like illness, you should not go back to work or school until you have not had a fever for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

- If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, stay home until after those symptoms clear completely. Sick workers in restaurants and other food service occupations, schools, child care centers, healthcare facilities, must not return to work for 48 hours after symptoms abate.

White Castle Recalling Certain Frozen Burgers

2019-12-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that White Castle is recalling certain frozen six-packs of cheeseburgers, hamburgers, jalapeno cheeseburgers, and certain 16-packs of hamburgers and cheeseburgers because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Listeria monocytogenesis an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

The recall impacts products on shelves at select retailers with best by dates ranging from 04 Aug 2020 to 17 Aug 2020. Any product with these dates is being removed from shelves. Any product with a best by date before or after these dates is not included in the recall. Lot codes and other information about the recalled products is available online. (See link below)

To date, no illnesses have been associated with these products.

Customers who may have purchased any of the products are urged to dispose of them or return them to the store where they were purchased for an exchange or full refund. Customers with questions can call White Castle at 1-800-843-2728.

Wild Harvest Flour Being Recalled

2019-12-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that UNFI is recalling certain five-pound bags of its Wild Harvest Organic All-Purpose Flour because of the potential presence of E. coli.

The product is unbleached flour with a Code of AA BEST IF USED BY 010820 CC 15:58 and UPC Code 711535509158.

E. coli can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections in infants, older people, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. The most common symptoms of E. coli are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, which develop within three or four days of eating contaminated food. The illness usually lasts about a week and most people recover without treatment.

To date, no illness reports have been associated with this recall.

Consumers should check their pantries and dispose of this product, if they have it. Consumers with questions should contact UNFI at 855-423-2630.

Fuji Food Products Recalled

2019-12-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Fuji Food Products, Inc. is recalling ready to eat sushi, salads, and spring rolls because of potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products were distrusted in several states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts. They were sold under the brand names Trader Joe's and Okami. To date, no illnesses have been associated with these products.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The problem was discovered in their Brockton Massachusetts facility by a routine inspection conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company has ceased production and distribution of their products in this facility as FDA and the company continue their investigation.

The products are packed in plastic trays with clear lids and the sell-by dates are on the labels. Consumers who have purchased any of these products should dispose of them.

A complete product list is available online (see link below). Consumers with questions should call 1-888-667-1504.

RIDOH Embraces "Undetectable = Untransmittable" HIV Prevention Model

2019-12-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that it is joining other state health departments and organizations worldwide in supporting the international HIV prevention campaign Undetectable = Untransmittable, also known as U=U.

U=U describes the scientific consensus that people living with HIV who take antiretroviral therapy daily and have undetectable levels of HIV in their blood have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sex partners. Routine HIV testing and timely treatment for those who are HIV positive is central to Rhode Island's work to preventing further HIV transmission and ending the HIV epidemic. This concept is known as "treatment as prevention."

"Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to be healthy, regardless of who they are, who they love, or where they live. Unfortunately, for too long factors like stigma and discrimination have been barriers to health for too many people," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This campaign is about replacing stigma with science. By taking their medication daily, a person living with HIV can have a long, healthy life without any fear of transmitting HIV to their partner."

"Twenty years ago, we learned treatment would save lives. Today we know that it also prevents transmission to others," said Rhode Island native Bruce Richman, Executive Director of Undetectable = Untransmittable. "This is a gamechanger that underscores the need for everyone to have access to treatment to stay healthy and stop new transmissions."

RIDOH's endorsement of the U=U campaign was announced this morning by RIDOH Consultant Medical Director Philip A. Chan, MD at a World AIDS Day event in Pawtucket, sponsored by the Rhode Island HIV/STI Prevention Coalition. The Rhode Island HIV/STI Prevention Coalition is an umbrella organization of community groups, service providers, and state agencies that are working together to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through education, advocacy, partnerships, and public awareness.

Rhode Island measures its HIV progress using the benchmarks of the International 90 90 90 Campaign, which Providence and Rhode Island joined in 2015. This is a campaign to ensure that, by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV know their status; to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV are engaged in care; and to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV have viral suppression. As of 2018, Rhode Island has met the first target (92.3% of people living with HIV know their status). However, the targets for having people engaged in care and achieving viral suppression in Rhode Island have not yet been met.

In the last 10 years, there has been an overall reduction in the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Rhode Island. There were 73 new cases diagnosed in 2018, compared to 117 in 2009. In addition to stigma and discrimination, other community level factors that impact HIV rates and health outcomes for people living with HIV including housing, employment, and community level support.

Rhode Island's work on the community level factors that affect health is bolstered by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides access to HIV/AIDS medications, outpatient healthcare services, oral healthcare, health insurance premium and cost-sharing assistance, housing services, medical nutrition therapy, food bank/home delivered meals, mental health counseling, case management, transportation to medical appointments, and emergency financial assistance. RIDOH and EOHHS partner closely in overseeing HIV work at the state level in Rhode Island.

The theme of the 2019 World AIDS Day is Communities Make the Difference. This theme has prompted organizations across the globe to highlight the efforts of communities in responding to the AIDS epidemic in terms of leadership and advocacy. More information about the Rhode Island HIV/STI Prevention Coalition and the organizations that participated in Rhode Island's World AIDS Day event is available online.

Additional resources:

- Rhode Islanders can learn more about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment options and find health services by visiting health.ri.gov/hiv.

- RIDOH's RIghtTime sexual health app (righttimeapp.com) offers people information, resources, and videos on sexual health topics like healthy relationships; prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV/STDs; sexual health and family planning services and locations; where to find free condoms; information on birth control options; PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post exposure prophylaxis), which are medications to prevent HIV, and much more.

- Information about how to access free condoms in Rhode Island can also be found at health.ri.gov/findcondoms. It is very important for sexually active people to use condoms. Condoms are the best way to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, which continue to surge in Rhode Island and nationwide.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed the treatment as prevention model. More information from the CDC on this model is available online - https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/art/index.html

Make Health A Part of Your Thanksgiving

2019-11-27

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) encourages Rhode Islanders to take steps to make health a part of their holiday this Thanksgiving.

Handling and preparing your food properly can help keep you and your family safe. Be sure to:

- Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food. This is especially important if you have been handling raw meat.

- Thoroughly wash counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible. Washing turkey before cooking is not recommended.

- Keep raw meat and their juices away from ready-to-eat food.

- Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check and place it in the thickest part of the food.

- Cook the stuffing separately from the turkey to ensure it reaches the proper temperature.

- After eating, debone the turkey as soon as possible and divide it into smaller portions to cool quickly under refrigeration.

Try to eat as healthy as possible. To avoid extra calories:

- Eat smaller portions.

- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

- Don't fill up on snacks.

- Consume alcohol in moderation, if you are going to be drinking.

- Make sure that you have a designated driver, if you are going to be drinking and traveling.

The holidays can sometimes be stressful. To help avoid becoming too stressed, be sure to:

- Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.

- Ease your obligations, especially if you are piling activities and tasks onto an already full plate. Don't worry about disappointing the people in your life if you cannot be at a certain event or prepare a special dish.

- Put down your phones, get away from the television, and do something interactive with family and friends. Good examples are playing a board game, playing cards, or taking a walk.

- Focus conversation on the positive aspects of your life and what makes you thankful.

Consumers Urged to Avoid Romaine Lettuce from Salinas, California

2019-11-22

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are advising people to not eat romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, California growing region. The CDC and FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce harvested from this growing region.

This advisory pertains to all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California, including whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine (including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad). If romaine lettuce has "Salinas" on the label in any form (whether alone or with the name of another location) do not eat it. If you have romaine lettuce at home that is not labeled with a growing region, don't eat it, and throw it away. To date, 40 cases and 28 hospitalizations have been associated with this outbreak. There are no known illnesses in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Connecticut associated with this outbreak.

Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Salinas, California growing area does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically and greenhouse-grown romaine also do not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from sources outside Salinas, California.

More information is available online from the CDC and the FDA. (See links below.)

What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators should not serve romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing area. If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region and harvest date, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it. If you are unable to determine the source of your romaine lettuce, the product should be sent back to your supplier or thrown away.

Restaurants and retailers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that food handlers wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

- Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators regularly.

- Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store food.

- Wash hands with hot water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

- Regular, frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Boil Water Notice Removed for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association Customers

2019-11-22

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown was notified by RIDOH on 11/22/19 that the boil water notice issued to its customers can be removed. RIDOH required this boil water notice on or around 11/14/19 because of the presence of E. coli in the water system.

For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials. Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at http://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/.

Customers with questions should contact Bob Pompei at 401-741-4042.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Lucky House Restaurant

2019-11-22

The Lucky House restaurant in Ashaway (Hopkinton) is required to issue a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water system. For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials.

Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at http://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/ (see link below).

Lucky House collected a sample in the water system on November 19, 2019 that had E. coli present, which was confirmed by additional samples collected November 21, 2019. A boil water order will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH notifies the water system officials that the boil water notice can be rescinded.

Customers with questions should contact Danny Zeng at 401-595-0036.

RIDOH Taking Action to Address Antibiotic Resistance

2019-11-21

As a part of ongoing efforts to reduce the improper prescribing of antibiotics and prevent the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is planning a new round of healthcare provider education.

This educational campaign is being launched in the wake of a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week that underscores the need for continued improvement in infection prevention and antibiotic prescribing practices nationwide. According to Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Antibiotics save lives, but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and can lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent public health threats we face today. Antibiotic resistance does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria develop the ability to defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them, and the bacteria multiply. Some resistant bacteria can be hard or impossible to treat and can spread to other people.

RIDOH will be sending targeted educational materials to the top 10% of antibiotic prescribers in Rhode Island. RIDOH's Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning (AMSEC) Task Force is also continuing its partnership with CDC to educate all Rhode Islanders about how to Be Antibiotics Aware and encourage the proper use of antibiotics. Public health officials throughout the country are taking similar measures to educate the public this week, during Antibiotic Awareness Week.

"Improving the way we prescribe and take antibiotics can help keep us healthy now, help fight antibiotic resistance, and ensure that lifesaving antibiotics will be available for the future," said AMSEC Chair Kerry LaPlante, Pharm.D., FCCP, a Professor at the University of Rhode Island's College of Pharmacy. "Patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare facility administrators all have a role to play in making Rhode Island antibiotics aware."

Despite the challenges that persist, the CDC report also indicated progress in fighting antibiotic resistant infections. Since 2013, prevention efforts have reduced deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections by 18 percent overall and by nearly 30 percent in hospitals. The AMSEC Task Force is working with Rhode Island healthcare providers and facilities to improve infection prevention practices.

CDC and RIDOH advise patients and their families to use antibiotics only when necessary. This will further reduce antibiotic resistance and the spread of superbugs, as well as protect patients from side effects. The Be Antibiotics Aware initiative educates the public about when antibiotics are needed, when they are not, how to take antibiotics appropriately, and potential side effects of antibiotics.

"When someone takes the time out of their day to go to the doctor, they want to walk out with a prescription that is going to make them feel better. But antibiotics are not always the answer," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "In fact, they can sometimes make things even worse. By taking antibiotics when not appropriate, people put themselves at risk for serious side effects while also undermining our ability to use antibiotics as a life-saving tool for future generations."

CDC and RIDOH encourage patients and families to:

- Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green. When antibiotics aren't needed, they won't help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.

- Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about alternatives to antibiotics.

- While your body fights off a virus, pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids, and rest can help you feel better.

- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.

- Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.

- Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.

- Do not share prescription medications.

More information and videos can be found at health.ri.gov/antibiotics and cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.

In addition to these educational efforts, RIDOH helped promote Drug Take Back Day on October 26, 2019 as part of the Department's Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge commitment. The event was coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). The Drug Take Back Day event resulted in 4,778 pounds of unused or expired medications, including antibiotics and prescription painkillers, being properly disposed of at 55 locations statewide, including pharmacies and police stations. For a list of locations that accept unused and expired prescription medications for safe disposal, visit https://preventoverdoseri.org/get-rid-of-medicines/.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association Customers

2019-11-14

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown is required to issue a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in one of the wells that serves the water supply. For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials.

Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at http://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/.

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association collected a sample at each well on November 12, 2019. E. coli bacteria was present in Well #1 and absent in Well #2. An additional sample will be collected in the distribution system today.

The boil water order will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH notifies the water system officials that the boil water notice can be rescinded.

Customers with questions should contact Bob Pompei at 401-741-4042.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Three Bodies of Water

2019-11-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Watson Reservoir in Little Compton, Sisson Pond in Portsmouth, and Paradise (Nelson's) Pond in Middletown because of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should avoid recreation and not ingest untreated water or eat fish from these waters. Since pets can be affected by exposure to algal toxins, owners should not allow pets to drink from or swim in these waters. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with untreated water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in or have otherwise been in contact with the affected waters who experience symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with waters with blue-green algae should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

While Watson Reservoir is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water, it is not currently being used to deliver drinking water to customers. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a blue-green algae bloom is present, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any surface water at any time is not recommended.

Sources maintained by Newport Water that are treated to become drinking water may come from nine different surface reservoirs or ponds: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Watson Reservoir and Gardiner Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience cyanobacteria blooms. Most blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

Newport Water needs all residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island and in Tiverton and Little Compton to help protect these valuable drinking water supplies. State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted.

Cyanobacteria blooms also occur in other waterbodies in the State. The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Smoked Salmon Recalled

2019-11-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Mill Stream Corp. (Sullivan Harbor Farm) of Hancock, Maine is recalling ten lots of Cold Smoked Salmon because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

The smoked salmon products were sold and distributed in several states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The products sold were through retail, wholesale and online orders.

The recalled product was sold between March 6, 2019 and September 17, 2019 in vacuum sealed packages in the following sizes: whole salmon side, 2 lb., 1 lb., 8 oz., and 4 oz. The affected product is marked with the following lot numbers marked on the back of the packages: 7049, 7050, 7051, 7052, 7054, 7056, 7058, 7060, 7062, 7066.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Consumers with questions should contact the company at 207-266-0621, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm EST.

New Data Reveal Alarming Rise in Vaping By Rhode Island High School Students

2019-11-07

The percentage of Rhode Island high school students who report frequent use of vaping products almost tripled in the last two years, and one-in-two Rhode Island high school students now report having tried vaping, according to new data released today by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

According to RIDOH's 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 10.2% of high school students now report frequent use of "electronic vapor products." In 2017, 3.7% of high school students reported frequent use. ("Frequent use" is use on 20 or more days in the 30 days before the survey.) The 2019 YRBS indicated that 48.9% of high school students have ever vaped. Additionally, 30.1% of high school students in 2019 reported that they currently vape. In 2017, 20.1% of Rhode Island high school students reported current use. ("Current use" is use at least once in the last 30 days.) The YRBS is conducted every two years by RIDOH.

"These numbers are a wake-up call for all of us," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Electronic cigarettes are dangerous. They're also responsible for getting more teenagers addicted to nicotine every year, primarily because of products that come in candy-like flavors. That's why I took action this September. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our kids."

On September 25, Governor Raimondo signed an Executive Order directing RIDOH to issue emergency health regulations banning the sale of flavored Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products, and flavors are the primary reason youth report using e-cigarettes. RIDOH issued emergency health regulations banning the sale of flavored ENDS products on October 4. The ban is still in place. (On November 5, a Superior Court judge ruled against a request for a restraining order to temporarily block the ban.)

Governor Raimondo's Executive Order also called on RIDOH to convene a Vaping Advisory Committee. That group first met on October 30. It includes healthcare providers, public health professionals, students, school officials, people in the business community, and many others. The group's charge is to monitor state and national vaping developments and provide recommendations on next steps related to vaping to promote public health.

RIDOH staff have been in the community conducting compliance checks and educating retailers about the ban. This face-to-face education in the community complements the communication that RIDOH sent directly to retailers and posted online. RIDOH has also developed a guide for businesses on the ban on flavored ENDS products.

"Every young person in Rhode Island deserves the chance to grow up healthy," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "To make this possible, we have to act on e-cigarettes now. Our history with traditional, lit cigarettes tells us that targeted, aggressive policies aimed at keeping kids safe can have dramatic impacts on rates of youth use. While putting policies in place related to flavored products, we're working hard to let people know that there are safe, effective resources in Rhode Island for quitting. Help is available today at no cost."

The percentage of middle school students who have ever vaped was 16.4 in 2019, compared to 15.7 in 2017. In 2019, 6.5% of middle school students reported current use of electronic vapor products.

Health risks to young people from vaping include nicotine addiction and learning and memory issues. Nicotine is extremely harmful to the developing brain. Other health issues include lung illnesses, heart problems, injuries resulting from battery explosions, and accidental childhood nicotine poisonings. High school students who vaping are four times more likely to smoke lit cigarettes in the future.

Teenagers who are addicted to vaping nicotine can use the Truth Initiative's This Is Quitting text-based app. They should text HOPE4RI to 88709. Separately, the Rhode Island Nicotine Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW/1-800-784-8669) is ready to support any Rhode Islanders older than 13 years old who want help quitting smoking or vaping. Nicotine Replacement Therapy is available at no charge to any Rhode Islander 18 and older, regardless of insurance status.

The YRBS is a collaboration between the CDC, RIDOH, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). The survey is implemented through anonymous questionnaires in Rhode Island public schools. These most recent data were collected between January 2019 and May 2019.

Other topics covered by the YRBS include obesity, physical activity and nutrition, mental health, sexual health, unintentional injuries and violence, and alcohol and drug use. RIDOH is still analyzing the data in these areas. These additional data will be released in the coming weeks.

The YRBS is one of three youth school surveys conducted in Rhode Island. RIDE administers SurveyWorks annually, which is a school climate survey of students in grades 3-5 and 6-12, and parents and teachers. BHDDH conducts the RI Student Survey every other year with middle and high school students. These three surveys together help policy makers, school administrators, social service workers, and public health professionals understand trends in the health behaviors of young people across the state and to create health-related policies that will impact those behaviors.

Mann Packing Co. Recalls Vegetable Products

2019-11-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Mann Packing Co. is recalling a series of vegetable products sold to select retailers throughout the United States. The recall is a response to a notification by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled products include broccoli florets, vegetable trays, green beans, and cauliflower. A full product list with product details is available online. The recalled products have "Best If Enjoyed By" date of October 11, 2019 to November 16, 2019.

To date, public health officials have not reported any illness associated with these products. Mann Packing is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who believe that they are in possession of any of the products affected by this recall should dispose of them.

For any inquiries or comments, consumers should call 1-844-927-0707 or email consumers@mannpacking.com

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville

2019-11-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville (which spans Smithfield and Johnston town line) due to a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. Very high levels of microcystins were detected in water samples taken from the Little Beach area near Terrance Drive. Visual monitoring found another likely blue-green algae bloom in the Green Lake area of the reservoir.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People also should not ingest water or eat fish from Slack Reservoir. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

New Statewide Initiative Addresses Maternal Depression and Related Behavioral Health Needs

2019-11-04

To help perinatal care providers meet the behavioral healthcare needs of pregnant and postpartum women in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Center for Women's Behavioral Health (CWBH) at Women & Infants Hospital have partnered to create the Rhode Island Maternal Psychiatry Resource Network (RI MomsPRN).

This new statewide program provides real-time psychiatric teleconsultation services for healthcare providers, who can call 401-430-2800, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The telephone service is staffed by a team of perinatal behavioral health experts from CWBH, including a resource and referral specialist, perinatal psychiatrist, and perinatal psychologist. They are available to help with diagnosis, treatment planning, and medication management for pregnant and post-partum patients.

"We want to make sure that all babies, moms, and families in every ZIP code in Rhode Island have an equal opportunity to be healthy," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The most common medical complication of childbirth is depression. It is crucial that we equip healthcare providers in Rhode Island with the tools and resources they need to support women during this critical phase. Connection is everything."

An estimated 20% of Rhode Island women experience depression before, during, or after pregnancy. Depression symptoms in the perinatal period can range from a sad mood and loss of interest in activities to feelings of worthlessness, problems in concentrating or making decisions, and changes in eating or sleep. There is also growing evidence that perinatal substance use is increasing. Routine screening for maternal depression and related behavioral health needs throughout the perinatal period is a recommended best practice and results in better outcomes for mother and child.

"Perinatal mood and substance use disorders are highly treatable," said Director of CWBH Margaret Howard, PhD. "Rhode Island is fortunate to have a robust community of perinatal mental health experts, unique programming at CWBH, and services at the Day Hospital at Women & Infants. However, there is still a need for more specialized providers. RI MomsPRN is designed to build provider capacity in treating mild to moderate cases of perinatal mood complications and to prioritize specialty resources for high-risk women with more complex conditions."

The RI MomsPRN team can also help identify community-based resources, such as mental health care, recovery services, support groups, and other case-dependent resources for pregnant and postpartum patients. This program is funded by a five-year grant from the US Health Resources and Services Administration and draws on the successful outcomes of Rhode Island's PediPRN Program at the Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital that helps pediatricians manage children's psychiatric needs.

To learn more about RI MomsPRN phone consultation service for healthcare providers, visit http://www.womenandinfants.org/services/behavioral-health/ri-momsprn.cfm

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $650,000 with 1% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents included in this news release were prepared by RIDOH and the CWBH and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Tips for a Healthy and Safe Halloween

2019-10-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding Rhode Islanders about safety precautions they should take tomorrow if they will be celebrating Halloween.

Be Careful when Trick or Treating

- Use sidewalks instead of walking in the street.

- Carry a flashlight to help yourself see and be seen.

- Remind children that they should never enter homes or apartments unless accompanied by an adult.

- Be aware of obstacles on lawns, steps, and porches, especially candle-lit jack-o-lanterns that may brush against a child's costume.

- Consider using face paint instead of a mask. This can help children see better and avoid dangerous objects such as cars and tripping hazards.

Be a Responsible Driver

- Drive slowly in residential neighborhoods.

- Watch for trick-or-treaters at intersections, medians, and on curbs.

- Enter and exit driveways carefully.

Continue to take measures to prevent mosquito bites

This has been a higher-than-average risk year for mosquito-borne diseases, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), in southeastern New England. Rhode Island is still considered to be in mosquito season until the first hard frost of the year, which all of Rhode Island has not had yet. (A hard frost is when temperatures are below 32 degrees for three consecutive hours.) For that reason, Rhode Islanders who will be outdoors on Halloween should continue to take mosquito bite prevention measures. Those include:

- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

- Using EPA-approved bug spray with at least 20% DEET. (Information on bug repellant with other types of active ingredients that are also effective is available below.) People should not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin.

- Putting mosquito netting over baby carriages.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips.

Great Value Pork Sausage and Turkey Sausage Patty Products Recalled

2019-10-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that approximately 6,500 pounds of Great Value pork sausage patty products and turkey sausage patty products are being recalled because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. Great Value products are sold at Walmart stores.

The ready-to-eat pork and turkey sausage patty items were produced on April 19, April 27, May 7, and May 9, 2019. The following products are subject to recall:

- 24.92-oz. packages containing "Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Patties" with use by date of 10/16/19 and lot code 1091971894.

- 24.92-oz. packages containing "Great Value Fully Cooked Original Breakfast Turkey Patties" with use by date of 10/24/19 and lot code 1171971897.

- 35.6-oz. packages containing "Family Size Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Patties" with use by date of 11/03/19 and lot code 1271972894 or use by date 11/05/19 and lot code 1291972894.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. M2206T or P-2260T" printed on the package. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Consumption of ready-to-eat food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Questions about this recall can be directed to George's Prepared Foods' Customer Care Line at (800) 471-9665.

Boil Water Notice Issued for 1195 Putnam Pike LLC Customers

2019-10-09

The 1195 Putnam Pike LLC in Chepachet has issued a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. The two businesses located in the building served by this water system are Aegean Pizza and The Computer Store, and the two businesses serve approximately 155 people daily.

All water used for consumption is required to be boiled vigorously for at least one minute. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.

1195 Putnam Pike collected a sample on October 7, 2019, that was positive for E. coli bacteria. In addition, two samples collected in the distribution system were positive for total coliform bacteria (an indicator that disease-causing organisms such as E. coli could be present) on October 8, 2019.

The boil water advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

• Fever higher than 101.5° F, measured orally

• Blood in the stool

• Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)

• Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up

• Diarrheal illness that lasts more than three days

Customers with questions should contact Saad Souleiman at 401-568-2725 or 401-243-5200.

Emergency Health Regulations Ban the Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes in Rhode Island

2019-10-04

In response to Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Executive Order last week on the public health epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) promulgated today, October 4, 2019, emergency health regulations banning the sale of flavored electronic nicotine-delivery system (ENDS) products in Rhode Island.

"I'm deeply concerned about the rapid increase and effects of e-cigarette use among youth. That's why in Rhode Island we're taking action to ensure that companies can no longer market these products with colorful packaging and candy-based flavors," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "This is a public health crisis, and the regulations announced today will help to protect our kids' health."

The use of ENDS products among young people has become a public health epidemic in Rhode Island. Approximately one in five (20%) high school students in Rhode Island reports regularly using an ENDS product, and 15% of middle school students report having experimented with them. A majority of youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products, including mango, cucumber, vanilla, cherry, mint, and cotton candy. Most youth e-cigarette users first start using e-cigarettes with a flavored product, and flavors are the primary reason youth report using e-cigarettes.

Health risks to young people from e-cigarette use include nicotine addiction, learning, memory, and mental health problems, lung illnesses, heart problems, injuries resulting from battery explosions, and accidental childhood nicotine poisonings. High school students who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to smoke lit cigarettes in the future.

"We know that youth in all communities and in all populations are impacted by this public health epidemic," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "And we want to prevent youth from immediate nicotine health harms and from becoming cigarette smokers in the future."

Teens addicted to vaping nicotine can use the Truth Initiative's This Is Quitting text-based app. Text HOPE4RI to 88709.

The regulation banning the manufacture, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of, flavored ENDS products takes effect immediately. Compassion centers, which offer THC-based vaping products to registered medical marijuana patients, and licensed cultivators are exempt from this ban. Compassion centers and licensed cultivators registered with the State of Rhode Island are already highly regulated by RIDOH and the Department of Business Regulation. RIDOH will consider taking further action regarding THC-based vaping in conjunction with the advice of the Vaping Advisory Committee being formed pursuant to Governor Raimondo's Executive Order.

These emergency health regulations are in place for 120 days and can then be extended for an additional 60 days. The standard process for promulgating non-emergency health regulations will then be followed.

RIDOH conducted extensive community outreach before promulgating these regulations. That outreach included discussions with the business industry, healthcare providers, community partners, other State agencies, prevention and cessation advocates, parents, youth, and members of the General Assembly.

RIDOH staff has been working closely with staff on the free quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW/1-800-784-8669) to assure they are ready to support any Rhode Islander, age 13 and older, who wants help to quit smoking or vaping. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is available at no charge to any Rhode Islander age 18 and older, regardless of insurance status. NRT should not be used in combination with e-cigarettes.

Dealers and distributors must self-certify, at the time of initial application and every renewal application that none of the electronic nicotine-delivery system products they make, sell, or provide to consumers in Rhode Island are flavored electronic nicotine-delivery system products. Enforcement of these emergency regulations will be an interagency effort using existing inspection processes and resources.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-1-57, any distributor or dealer who sells, offers for sale, or possesses with intent to sell, electronic nicotine-delivery system products to consumers in the State of Rhode Island, without the appropriate license, shall be fined in amounts set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-1-58. Compassion centers and licensed cultivators registered with the State of Rhode Island under R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 21-28.6 are exempt from this ban.

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E.A. Sween Announces Product Recalls Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

2019-10-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that E. A Sween Company is recalling multiple products because of a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenesis an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and fetal infection among pregnant women.

Tip Top Poultry, Inc., recently issued a recall, and they are an ingredient provider to two of E.A. Sween's suppliers, The Suter Company, Inc. that provides chicken salad products and Baja Foods LLC that provides burritos, to the company. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not received any reported illnesses related to this organism. RIDOH's Center for Food Protection has confirmed that the recalled product was distributed in Rhode Island.

Retailers have been instructed to remove affected products from store shelves and inventory immediately. Customer partners with questions are asked to call our Customer Service hotline at 1-800-328-8184 and select #6 for information and refund instructions.

Affected product could have been delivered in the Continental US, Hawaii and Guam through convenience stores and grocery and mass retail outlets. Consumers may return the affected product to the store where it was purchased for a full refund or exchange.

Two Rhode Island Cases Added to National Investigation into Vaping and Lung Injury

2019-10-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reporting that two Rhode Island cases are now included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into lung injury associated with e-cigarette use, or "vaping."

Both individuals experienced symptom on set in early September and were hospitalized. Both individuals were discharged from the hospital after approximately one week and are recovering. One was in the 18 to 24-year-old age range. The other person was in the 25 to 35-year-old age range. These cases are not linked. Products were obtained from both individuals and were submitted to RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. The State Health Laboratories are coordinating submission to the FDA for testing.

The specific chemical exposures causing lung injury associated with vaping have not yet been identified. Given the unknowns about this lung injury cluster, the CDC is reporting the number of cases in each state using the single designation "confirmed and probable cases." Rhode Island's two cases are among these "confirmed and probable cases."

"While we do not yet know what exactly is causing people to become ill across the country, we do know that these lung injuries are serious, and in some instances even fatal," said Director of Heath Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "E-cigarettes are addictive and dangerous. Children, adolescents, and pregnant women should never vape, and any adult who vapes should strongly consider not doing so until we know more. There are safe, effective resources in Rhode Island to help people quit using e-cigarettes. Help is available today at no cost."

Anyone in need of support for quitting smoking or vaping should contact their healthcare provider or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Rhode Island teens can text the Tobacco Free Rhode Island promo code HOPE4RI to 88709 to access This Is Quitting, a new Truth Initiative text-based service for youth.

In August, the CDC and the FDA announced a nationwide investigation into non-infectious severe lung injury among patients who had used e-cigarettes or vaping devices. As of October 2nd, there have been 805 cases reported from 46 states and one U.S. territory. (This figure does not yet include Rhode Island's two cases. CDC data are updated weekly.) Twelve deaths have been confirmed in 10 states. There have been no deaths in Rhode Island. All patients have a history of vaping. The latest findings from the investigation suggest that products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) play a role in the outbreak. THC is a component in cannabis.

RIDOH has been communicating regularly with Rhode Island healthcare providers about the national investigation. Those communications have included instructions on how to report suspect cases. RIDOH held a conference call today to provide updates to physicians likely to encounter lung injury associated with vaping.

Most patients in the national investigation have experienced respiratory symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain. Some patients have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Other symptoms have included fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks.

Anyone with trouble breathing or chest pain should seek immediate medical attention. Anyone concerned about their health after vaping should contact a healthcare provider.

E-cigarette products should not be bought off the street, and they should not be modified. People should not use e-cigarette products containing THC.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. Parents should talk to their children about these and other dangers of e-cigarette use. The Office of the Surgeon General has guidance online for parents at e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.

Additional information from RIDOH about vaping can be found online: http://health.ri.gov/healthrisks/tobacco/about/teentargeting

Rhode Island Department of Health Kicks Off Annual Flu Vaccination Campaign

2019-10-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) launched Rhode Island's annual flu immunization campaign today in collaboration with community partners, including East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) and members of the East Providence Health Equity Zone (HEZ) community collaborative. Dr. Ailis Clyne, Medical Director of RIDOH's Division of Community Health and Equity, discussed the dangers of the flu and the importance of flu shots for everyone older than six months of age. Flu vaccinations were also made available to event attendees.

"Year in and year out, a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu. Limiting the spread of the flu by getting a flu shot is especially important if you spend time with younger children or the elderly, who are more susceptible to the effects of the flu," said Dr. Clyne. "Flu shots are safe, effective, and easy to get in cities and towns across Rhode Island! Even if you don't have health insurance or can't afford a flu shot, there are places in Rhode Island where you can get vaccinated for free, like the public flu clinics that opened this week at schools across the state."

Although doctors recommend flu shots for everyone older than six months of age, flu shots are especially important for certain people. They include the elderly, healthcare workers, younger children, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

In addition to Dr. Clyne, the event at EBCAP was attended by EBCAP's Chief Medical Officer and 2019 Rhode Island Childhood Immunization Champion Sarah Fessler; EBCAP's Vice President of Family Development Rita Capotosto; and members of the East Providence HEZ Collaborative, including its Project Director Albert Whitaker.

"Why do healthcare providers recommend that almost everyone should get a flu shot every year? Because every year, up to 80,000 people In the United States die of complications of influenza," said Dr. Fessler. "Influenza is a preventable disease, and your best protection is the flu shot."

The flu is a serious virus that can even be deadly. Last year, the flu sent 1,032 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 39 deaths.

During the 2018-2019 flu season. Rhode Island had the highest vaccination coverage rate among adults (56.3%) in the nation, and the second highest coverage rate among children (78.0%).* However, RIDOH is working to increase Rhode Island's vaccination rate for the 2019-2020 flu season. A list of evening flu clinics that are located at schools and are open to the entire community is available at http://www.health.ri.gov/flu. Flu shots are also available at other community clinics, doctors' offices, and pharmacies.

After getting a flu shot, some people experience a slight ache or a low-grade fever. This means that the body is developing an immune response to the flu virus. These mild side effects are much less significant than the actual flu, which causes most people to stay in bed for a week. You absolutely cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, Rhode Islanders can take other steps to stay healthy and safe this flu season.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

- RIDOH recently awarded funding to East Providence to establish a new Health Equity Zone (HEZ). As the backbone organization for the HEZ, EBCAP's primary responsibility will be to support East Providence residents in identifying and leading initiatives to improve their health and wellness.

"East Bay Community Action Program is honored to have been chosen as the backbone agency for the East Providence Health Equity Zone," said Capotosto. "We have received strong support from community members, and we will continue to engage a broad and diverse array of residents, city leaders, business owners, community groups, and religious organizations to ensure that all stakeholders who wish to be involved in building the HEZ have an opportunity to do so. East Bay Community Action Program is in a unique position to facilitate this process, given its long-standing leadership role as a health, education and social service provider in the city. East Providence is a city with many strengths, and we are excited to build upon those strengths as we collaborate with others to determine a health and wellness-focused action plan."

The East Providence HEZ will hold a vaccination clinic on November 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the East Bay Family Health Center, 100 Bullocks Point Avenue, East Providence.

More information is available online:

- List of vaccination clinics and general information about the flu: health.ri.gov/flu

- Information about the flu in Spanish: health.ri.gov/gripe

- Information about Health Equity Zones: health.ri.gov/hez

- People with additional questions can call the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

Whole Foods Market Recalling Dorset Cheese

2019-10-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Whole Foods Market stores in the northeast are recalling Dorset cheese because of a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenesis an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and fetal infection among pregnant women.

The affected product was sold at Whole Foods Market stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. The affected product was cut and wrapped in plastic with a Whole Foods Market scale label, identifiable by PLU code 97776 with sell-by dates through 10/30/2019.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Customers who purchased this product at Whole Foods Market can bring a valid receipt into stores for a full refund. Consumers with additional questions can call 1-844-936-8255 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, or 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.

Roland Foods Red Lumpfish Caviar and Black Lumpfish Caviar

2019-09-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Roland Foods is recalling its red and black lumpfish caviar products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

The Red Lumpfish Caviar and Black Lumpfish Caviar, sold in glass jars, were distributed nationwide to retailers and foodservice distributors across the United States. The UPC code is located on the back of the label, under the bar code. A full product list is available online (see below).

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing found that the product experienced a processing issue.

Production and distribution of the product has been suspended as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the company continue their investigation. Consumers with questions can call 1-800-221-4030 ext. 222.

Two Additional Human EEE Cases Diagnosed in Rhode Island

2019-09-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are announcing that two additional Rhode Islanders have been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) this year. Rhode Island's total case count for human EEE cases for 2019 is now three. These cases were confirmed by tests done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The two people whose diagnoses are being announced today have both been discharged from the hospital and are recovering. Based on the time of symptom onset, it is believed that both people contracted EEE in late August. The first person is a child younger than 10 years old who lives in Coventry. The second person is in their 50s from Charlestown. On September 9th, the first person who was diagnosed with EEE this year in Rhode Island passed away. That person lived in West Warwick. All three people contracted the illness before areas of critical risk for EEE were aerially sprayed with pesticide between September 8th and September 10th.

In addition to these human diagnoses, EEE was confirmed in a deer from Exeter this week.

"This has been a year with significantly elevated EEE activity, and mosquitoes will remain a threat in Rhode Island until our first hard frost, which is still several weeks out," said RIDOH's Deputy Director Ana Novais. "Personal mosquito-prevention measures remain everyone's first defense against EEE. If possible, people should limit their time outdoors at sunrise and sunset. If you are going to be out, long sleeves and pants are very important, as is bug spray."

"Spraying effectively reduces the risk of mosquito-borne disease but if does not eliminate the risk completely," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Personal protection always is essential to further minimize the risk, and we hope that Rhode Island's #FightTheBite campaign helps raise public awareness about how important it is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."

DEM and RIDOH are considering the next steps in Rhode Island's EEE response. Those steps could include additional aerial spraying based on information about human cases, cases in other mammals, mosquito activity, and findings in neighboring states. Broad and targeted notification will be done in advance of any additional aerial spraying.

The four critical risk areas that were previously sprayed were (1) an area in northern Rhode Island (parts of Burrillville, North Smithfield, and Woonsocket); (2) parts of Westerly, Hopkinton, and Charlestown; (3) all of West Warwick and parts of Coventry, Cranston, Scituate, Warwick, East Greenwich, and West Greenwich; and (4) all of Central Falls, Pawtucket, and North Providence and parts of Providence, East Providence, Smithfield, Lincoln, and Cumberland.

To date this year, EEE has been detected by RIDOH's State Health Laboratories in six mosquito pools: two from Central Falls, three from Westerly, and one from Block Island. Additionally, one horse from Westerly has tested positive for EEE. RIDOH and DEM had previously announced that two deer had tested positive for EEE (one from Coventry and one from Richmond). A third deer from Exeter has been diagnosed this week. Deer, like horses, cannot transmit EEE to humans. However, they are an indication that infected mosquitoes are present in the area and people need to continue to take precautions.

All Rhode Islanders are urged to continue to #FightTheBite by taking mosquito-prevention measures until the first hard frost of the year (typically mid to late October in Rhode Island).

Protect yourself

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

- Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

- Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

- Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

- Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

- Clean your gutters and downspouts so that they can drain properly.

- Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

- Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

- Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Consumers Advised to Avoid Carancis Bread Products

2019-09-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public to not consume any products manufactured by Dupras Baking Co. of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Dupras makes rolls and bread products and sells them under the brand name Carancis.

This advisory is being issued due to potential contamination of foods produced at Dupras' location. The problem was discovered on September 12, 2019 while RIDOH staff were performing an inspection. Evidence of rodents and insanitary conditions was observed. Consumers are asked to check their homes and dispose of any Carancis products made by Dupras.

There have been no confirmed reports of illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

Mosquito Spraying Planned for a Second Night in Areas of Critical EEE Risk

2019-09-09

The dispersal of aerial mosquito treatments in four areas that state officials have determined to be at critical risk for the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus will continue Monday night after a successful first phase of the spraying plan Sunday night.

On Sunday night and early Monday morning, spraying was done in all of West Warwick and parts of Coventry, Cranston, Warwick, East Greenwich, and West Greenwich; as well as all of Central Falls, Pawtucket, and North Providence and parts of Providence, East Providence, Smithfield, Lincoln, and Cumberland. Spraying in northern Rhode Island (parts of Burrillville, North Smithfield, and Woonsocket) was not completed on Sunday night due to falling temperatures. (The effectiveness of spraying is limited when the temperature falls below 58 degrees.) Spraying in these northern areas, and parts of southern Rhode Island (parts of Westerly, Hopkinton, and Charlestown) is planned for tonight. Spraying will start at dusk tonight and will be completed by 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will provide more details on the timing when the flight plan is finalized. A link to a map with the areas that have been sprayed, and that will be sprayed, is below.

EEE is a rare, but serious illness that spreads when people are bitten by infected mosquitoes. On August 30th the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the state's first human case of EEE since 2010 in an individual in their 50s from West Warwick. At that time, it was announced that this individual was in critical condition. This individual passed away on September 8th. This was Rhode Island's first fatal human EEE case since 2007.

Two mosquito detections of EEE have occurred in Central Falls and two have occurred in Westerly. A horse was also diagnosed with EEE in Westerly. In addition, several EEE cases and positive mosquitoes have been detected in Connecticut and Massachusetts, some in areas that border Rhode Island. Generally, spraying in Rhode Island is occurring in four-mile radiuses around positive samples and cases.

The pesticide that is being applied, Anvil 10+10, is being used at very low concentrations. Spraying will not occur over fish hatcheries, certified organic farms, surface drinking water supplies, and other open water bodies and coastal areas. Massachusetts officials used the same product in recent aerial spraying in Bristol, Plymouth, Worcester, and other counties. Anvil is registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for this use.

The product being sprayed is being used at very low concentrations. No adverse health risks are expected with its use for mosquito control. Nonetheless, while spraying is occurring, it is best to err on the side of caution and limit time outdoors and keep windows closed. It is generally good for people to limit their exposure to pesticides. More information on health and spraying is available here. For FAQs on the impact of spraying on pets and livestock, click here.

Personal mosquito prevention measures remain everyone's first defense against mosquito-borne illnesses, such as EEE. All Rhode Islanders (both people who live in areas being sprayed, and people who live in areas not being sprayed) are urged to continue taking these measures until the first hard frost of the year (typically mid to late October in Rhode Island).

Protect yourself

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

- Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

- Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

- Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

- Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

- Clean your gutters and downspouts so that they can drain properly.

- Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

- Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

- Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Little Pond in Warwick

2019-09-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Little Pond (also known as Sandy Pond) in Warwick due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Little Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

RIDOH Confirms First Human Case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE); DEM Ramps up Mosquito Testing and Control Measures

2019-08-30

Today the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the state's first human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a person over the age of 50 from West Warwick. This is the first human case of EEE in Rhode Island since 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which performs the EEE testing, notified RIDOH today of the positive result.

This announcement comes a day after the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) issued an announcement about a horse in Westerly that had tested positive for the disease. Over the past few weeks, mosquitoes carrying the disease have been found in Westerly and Central Falls. This is a higher-than-average risk summer for mosquito-borne diseases in southeastern New England. Massachusetts has announced four human cases of EEE and seven cases in horses. Connecticut also has found EEE and West Nile Virus in mosquitoes and two cases in horses.

"In Rhode Island, we have confirmed EEE in both a horse and a human, which indicates that there is a high risk for transmission of disease to humans through mosquito bites," said Ana Novais, Deputy Director of RIDOH. "EEE is a rare, but very serious disease. We strongly recommend that people everywhere in Rhode Island protect themselves and their families by using insect repellent, minimizing outdoor exposure at dusk and dawn, and wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors at those times. People must also reduce opportunities for mosquitoes to breed by eliminating standing water around their homes."

To respond to the elevated risk, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is adding traps to capture and test more mosquitoes statewide. Typically, DEM sets between 25 and 30 traps in Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Exeter, Warwick, Cranston, Johnston, Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, East Providence, Barrington, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton, Portsmouth, and Newport. DEM will add traps in West Warwick and the northern Rhode Island communities of Burrillville, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, and Cumberland. This step will allow scientists from DEM and the University of Rhode Island to optimize other response measures, such as the aerial spraying of pesticide, to continually assess mosquito species, volume, and infection and, working with RIDOH, minimize the risk of further human disease.

The state will target eliminating both mosquito larvae - small organisms just hatched from eggs living in freshwater bodies - and adult biting mosquitoes. Larvicide is a targeted approach to killing the larvae before they mature. It often consists of applying a naturally occurring bacteria in solid granule form from a helicopter onto mosquito breeding grounds such as swamps. For example, because of Chapman Swamp's history as a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry EEE, the Town of Westerly has applied a larvicide called Bti in the swamp since 1997. It is an environmentally friendly product and does not pose a risk to human health.

The state is taking all necessary preparations for conducting aerial spraying to kill adult biting mosquitoes. RIDOH and DEM are actively evaluating options and will continue to provide updates. The state will release a spraying schedule before any spraying occurs.

Previous recommendations from RIDOH are still in effect. On Monday of this week, RIDOH recommended to schools and municipal leaders that games, practices, and other outdoor activities scheduled to occur during early morning or dusk hours be rescheduled to earlier in the afternoon or relocated to an indoor venue. The "smart scheduling" of events is intended to help minimize the risk of mosquito bites for players, coaches, and spectators. RIDOH recommends that smart scheduling stay in effect for the remainder of the mosquito season, which typically ends in mid-October (after the first hard frost).

In addition to following this smart scheduling recommendation, there are other measures that Rhode Islanders should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to help minimize mosquito breeding.

Protect yourself

• Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

• At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

• Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

• Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

• Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

• Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

• Clean your gutters and downspouts so that they can drain properly.

• Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

• Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

• Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Best practices for horse owners

Horses are particularly susceptible to WNV and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season and practice the following:

• Remove or cover areas where standing water can collect.

• Avoid putting animals outside at dawn, dusk, or during the night when mosquitoes are most active.

• Insect-proof facilities where possible and use approved repellents frequently.

• Monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs (such as stumbling, moodiness, loss of appetite) and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately. If you are unsure if your horse is properly vaccinated, you should consult with your veterinarian.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit http://www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

Consumers Advised to Avoid Unsealed Food from We Share Hope

2019-08-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers to avoid eating food products that are not commercially sealed from We Share Hope of Warren and East Providence, RI because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Various food products were distributed to soup kitchens and food pantries in Rhode Island and possibly other states or may have been purchased at the We Share Hope facility at 624 Main Street, Warren. No one should purchase or obtain food from the Warren or East Providence facilities until further notice. These products were distributed from a facility that previously had environmental samples that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. At this time, there have not been any reports of illnesses associated with these products.

When consumed in food, Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who have purchased or received any products that were not commercially sealed from We Share Hope are urged to properly dispose of them, and to thoroughly wash, rinse, and sanitize any surfaces that may have come into contact with these products.

Listeria monocytogenes can spread from one surface to another. Thoroughly wash food preparation surfaces by scrubbing with warm, soapy water. Rinse off soapy water and sanitize all surfaces. You can make your own sanitizer by combining 1 teaspoon of unscented bleach to one 1 quart of water, flooding the surface and letting it stand for 10 minutes. Then rinse with clean water. Let surfaces air dry or pat them dry with fresh paper towels.

RIDOH Recommends 'Smart Scheduling' For Outdoor Activities

2019-08-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommended to schools and municipal leaders today that games, practices, and other outdoor activities scheduled to occur during early morning or dusk hours be rescheduled to earlier in the afternoon or relocated to an indoor venue. The 'smart scheduling' of events is intended to help minimize the risk of mosquito bites for players, coaches, and spectators.

This year in Rhode Island there have been two findings of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in mosquitoes. The mosquitoes were trapped in Central Falls. There have been no findings of West Nile Virus (WNV) in mosquito samples in Rhode Island this year. People can get EEE virus or WNV when they are bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are most active early in the morning and at dusk.

This is a higher-than-average risk summer for mosquito-borne diseases in southeastern New England. There have been a number of positive EEE and WNV mosquito pools in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts has announced four human cases of EEE, including one death. There have been multiple findings of both EEE and WNV in mosquitoes from eastern Connecticut.

EEE is a rare, but serious disease. In some cases, it can lead to swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Cases of EEE that do not involve encephalitis can result in symptoms including chills, fever, and malaise. WNV is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. Most people with WNV do not have any symptoms. However, in some instances it can lead to conditions affecting the central nervous system.

RIDOH recommends that smart scheduling stay in effect for the remainder of the mosquito season, which typically ends mid-October (after the first hard frost).

There are other measures that all Rhode Islanders should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to help minimize mosquito breeding.

Protect yourself

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

- Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

- Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

- Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

- Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

- Clean your gutters and down spouts so that they can drain properly.

- Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

- Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

- Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management also remind Rhode Islanders to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when traveling to Zika-affected countries. Pregnant women and women who are considering becoming pregnant should not travel to countries with active transmission of Zika.

CDC and FDA Investigating Cluster of Pulmonary Illnesses and E-cigarette Use

2019-08-26

August 26, 2019--The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a cluster of pulmonary illnesses possibly related to e-cigarette use, or "vaping."

From June 28, 2019 to August 22, 2019, 193 possible cases have been reported in 22 states, including Connecticut. One adult death has been reported. No cases have been reported in Rhode Island. Most illness reports have been for adolescents and young adults.

In many cases, patients reported a gradual start of symptoms including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain before hospitalization. Some cases involved mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea and fatigue as well. Many patients have reported vaping cannabis products, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) oils. THC and CBD are found in marijuana.

Rhode Islanders who experience difficulty breathing or chest pain should seek immediate medical attention.

"There are still some unknowns when it comes to e-cigarettes, but one thing is very clear: e-cigarettes are not safe, particularly for young people and for pregnant women," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "In addition to being unhealthy, teenagers often transition from using e-cigarettes to traditional, lit cigarettes-the deadliest of all tobacco products. Free resources are available for Rhode Islanders of any age who are looking for help quitting e-cigarette use."

If you are using e-cigarettes and are looking for help quitting, you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free resources. Additionally, parents should talk to their children about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. The Office of the Surgeon General has guidance online for parents.

Although Rhode Island has not had any reported cases, RIDOH has sent a communication to healthcare providers with an overview of the national situation, a description of symptoms, and instructions on how to report cases.

While some cases are similar and appear to be linked to e-cigarette use, more information is needed to determine what is causing the illnesses. Investigators have not identified any specific product or compound that is linked to all cases. The FDA is working with CDC and state health officials to gather information on any products or substances used.

Young people should not use vaping or e-cigarette products of any kind. The long-term health impacts for children and teenagers using these products are unknown. Patients with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems should seek medical care.

* This press release was originally published August 26, 2019. The resource links listed below were updated on September 12, 2019.

Rhode Island Seeing Increase in Non-Fatal Overdoses

2019-08-21

In light of recent increases in opioid overdose-related emergency department visits, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is cautioning all Rhode Islanders that law enforcement is reporting an increase in the circulation of counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl.

Hospitals in Rhode Island are required to report all suspected, non-fatal opioid overdoses within 48 hours to RIDOH. RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) review weekly opioid overdose data and issue a warning to first responders and city and town leadership in a region if that region's weekly overdose threshold has been exceeded. (Weekly thresholds are based on historic overdose data and population data.) Rhode Island's threshold as a whole is 42 overdoses per week.

Between August 12th and August 18th, there were 44 reports of suspected, non-fatal opioid overdoses in Rhode Island. The statewide average for opioid overdose-related emergency department visits for the first six months of 2019 has been 31 per week. Of the 44, there were 18 opioid overdoses in Providence, where the overdose threshold is 16. There were eight reported opioid overdoses in the region that includes Cranston, West Warwick, and Coventry. The threshold for this region is eight overdoses.

While RIDOH has noted these increases, Rhode Island law enforcement agencies have reported an increase in the circulation of counterfeit pills in the illegal drug market. These counterfeit pills are sold illegally and look identical to opioid prescription pain medications (such as Percocet®, OxyContin®, and Vicodin®), and may contain lethal amounts of illegally-made fentanyl. Twenty-one of the 44 people who overdosed received initial toxicology screenings. Of those 21 people, 19 were positive for fentanyl.

"There is no such thing as a clean drug. When you use an illegal drug, you never know what substance or substances you are putting into your body. One pill can kill," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "If you think someone is overdosing, no matter what drug you believe they took, call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Rhode Island's Good Samaritan Law protects people who call to get help for someone they think is overdosing."

People who use drugs should:

- Reach out and get help. Treatment and recovery support services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English and Spanish through BH Link. To get help for yourself or a loved one, call the BH Link Crisis Hotline at 401-414-LINK (5465), or go to the BH Link Walk-In Center located at 975 Waterman Avenue, East Providence.

- Carry the overdose reversal medicine naloxone. Naloxone is available at every Rhode Island pharmacy, and it is as easy to administer as a nasal spray.

- Never use drugs alone.

In 2018, 72% of all Rhode Island drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl. Fentanyl is colorless and odorless. You cannot tell if pills or other forms of drugs contain illegally-made fentanyl by looking at them or tasting them. Illegally-made fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.

Grained Salmon Caviar Recalled

2019-08-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Awers is recalling Grained Salmon Caviar 95g (Sockeye Salmon Caviar) with "BEST BEFORE OCT 07 2020" because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention. Grained Salmon Caviar 95g was distributed in California, New York, Oregon, Washington and product may have further distributed to other states and Canada.

Product is packed in a metal tin with Cyrillic lettering. The tin is green, with red and white writing with an easy open pull lid. The "BEST BEFORE OCT 07 2020" is printed on the bottom on the tin. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The product was reviewed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and sent to a lab for testing. The analysis showed a lower than normal salt content, which can foster an anaerobic environment which is necessary to breed the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. No Clostridium botulinum bacteria was detected in product.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Carbuncle Pond in Coventry and Additional Bodies of Water

2019-08-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) advise people to avoid contact with Carbuncle Pond in Coventry because of potential risks from blue-green algae. The advisories that RIDOH and DEM have issued for several other bodies of water in Rhode Island are still in place. These bodies of water are:

- Almy Pond in Newport

- Sisson Pond in Portsmouth

- JL Curran Reservoir in Cranston

- Mashapaug Pond in Providence

- Melville Ponds in Portsmouth

- Polo Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Japanese Gardens in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Pleasure Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Elm Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

With the exception of Deep Spring Lake, the ponds in Roger Williams Park are all interconnected. Visitors should remain alert for potential bloom conditions in any area of the park.

Samples collected from Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield indicate that blue-green algae are currently at low levels, but the public is advised that conditions may change quickly and that waters that are cloudy, green or with surface scums should be avoided.

Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Sisson Pond is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended. Newport Water may deliver treated drinking water from nine potential surface reservoirs or pond sources including: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Sisson Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.

State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted. It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Most algae blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov If possible, send a photograph to accompany the reported condition.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Central Beach Fire District Customers

2019-08-16

The Central Beach Fire District in Charlestown has issued a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. The water system serves approximately 166 homes.

All water used for consumption is required to be boiled vigorously, for at least one minute. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See link below.)

Central Beach Fire District collected a sample from Well #2 on 8/15/2019 that was positive for E. coli bacteria. In addition, several samples collected in the distribution system were positive for total coliform bacteria (an indicator that disease-causing organisms such as E. coli could be present) on 8/13/2019 and 8/15/2019. Well #2 has been turned off until it can be inspected and disinfected and bacteria samples come back absent. Well #1, which is absent of E. coli bacteria but contains total coliform bacteria, will supply the water system. Residents should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil water advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

- Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally

- Blood in the stool

- Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)

- Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up

- Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Vincent Reppucci at 646-355-8880.

Health Advisory for Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews

2019-08-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public to not feed Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews packed for BJ's Wholesale Club with lot codes G1 0319 and G1 3548 to their pets.

This advisory is being issued due to the potential presence of Salmonella, which was discovered during sampling of these products at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. This advisory is limited to these specific lot codes. Consumers who have purchased these products should dispose of them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are now advising people to not buy or feed any pig ear dog treats to pets as a result of an ongoing multistate Salmonella outbreak. People can get sick after handling the treats or caring for dogs who ate the treats. Dogs might get sick after eating them. For more information about Salmonella infections linked to contact with pig ear dog treats is available online (link below).

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. Children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. If you have symptoms of a Salmonella infection talk to your healthcare provider.

Product Information

Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews, 30 ears

- Package Lot Number - G1 3548

- Best If Used By Date - December 2021

Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews, 30 ears

- Package Lot Number - G1 0319

- Best If Used By Date - January 2022

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Roger Williams Park Ponds and Additional Bodies of Water

2019-08-15

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) advise people to avoid contact with Polo Lake and the Japanese Gardens in Roger Williams Park in Providence because of potential risks from blue-green algae. Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield and Carbuncle Pond in Coventry are currently being investigated for potential blue-green algae blooms The ponds are not under advisories at this time, but the public is asked to avoid any waters that are cloudy and green, or that have surface scum.

The advisories that RIDOH and DEM have issued for several other bodies of water in Rhode Island is still in place. These bodies of water are:

• Almy Pond in Newport

• Sisson Pond in Portsmouth

• JL Curran Reservoir in Cranston

• Mashapaug Pond in Providence

• Melville Ponds in Portsmouth

• Pleasure Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

• Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

• Elm Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

With the exception of Deep Spring Lake, the ponds in Roger Williams Park are all interconnected. Any area of the park's waters could develop a bloom, and visitors should avoid any areas that are green and discolored.

Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Sisson Pond is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended. Newport Water may deliver treated drinking water from nine potential surface reservoirs or pond sources including: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Sisson Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.

State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted. It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Most algae blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov If possible, send a photograph to accompany the reported condition.

Consumers Warned to Not Drink Miracle or Master Mineral Solution Products

2019-08-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that they should not drink products marketed as Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, or other sodium chlorite products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received many reports that these products, sold online as "treatments," have made consumers sick.

The FDA first warned consumers about the products in 2010. However, they are still being promoted on social media and sold online by many independent distributors. In addition to Miracle and Master Mineral Solution, other product names are Miracle Mineral Supplement; MMS; Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Protocol; and Water Purification Solution (WPS). When mixed according to package directions, they become a strong chemical that is used as bleach.

Some distributors are making false-and dangerous-claims that Miracle Mineral Supplement mixed with citric acid is an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial liquid that is a remedy for autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, flu, and other conditions. There is no research showing that these products are safe or effective for treating any illness.

Websites selling Miracle Mineral Solution describe the product as a liquid that is 28 percent sodium chlorite in distilled water. Product directions instruct people to mix the sodium chlorite solution with a citric acid, such as lemon or lime juice, or another acid before drinking. In many instances, the sodium chlorite is sold with a citric acid "activator." When the acid is added, the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent. Both sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide are the active ingredients in disinfectants and have additional industrial uses. They are not meant to be swallowed by people.

The FDA has received reports of consumers who have suffered from severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure after drinking these products. In general, the more concentrated the product, the more severe the reactions.

If anyone has a negative reaction to one of these products, they should consult a healthcare professional immediately.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Seven Waterbodies, Including Three in Roger Williams Park due to Blue-green Algae

2019-08-09

The Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management advise people to avoid contact with seven waterbodies because of potential risks from blue-green algae. These include:

Almy Pond, Newport

Sisson Pond, Portsmouth

JL Curran Reservoir, Cranston

Mashapaug Pond. Providence

and the following lakes within Roger Williams Park in Providence:

Pleasure Lake

Roosevelt Lake

Elm Lake

Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Note that Sisson Pond is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended.

Newport Water may deliver treated drinking water from nine potential surface reservoirs or pond sources including: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Sisson Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.

Newport Water needs all residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island and in Tiverton and Little Compton to help protect these valuable drinking water supplies. State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Most algae blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov If possible, send a photograph to accompany the reported condition.

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RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Georgiaville Pond

2019-08-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield. The advisory was put in place because of high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae has been present but at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxin is not present in detectable concentrations.

Blue-green algae conditions can change quickly, and it is possible that blooms may affect Georgiaville Pond again, or other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact RIDEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov

Lennox Recalling Pig Ears Dog Treats

2019-07-31

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the company Lennox is recalling its Natural Pig Ears dog treats because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products.

The recalled products affected where shipped to nationwide distributors and retail stores from November 1, 2018 to July 3, 2019. The product comes in an 8-pack branded pouch under UPC 742174 995163, 742174994166 or packaged individually shrink wrapped under UPC 0385384810, and 742174P35107. All UPC codes are located on the front label of the package. Individually shrink-wrapped packages may be labelled with "Lennox" or without brand information.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

To date, Lennox is aware of cases of human illness related to an ongoing Salmonella outbreak in which several people identified Lennox pig eat treats as the brand they purchased. Individually shrink-wrapped product tested by FDA tested positive for Salmonella. Lennox's pig ears are also sold bulk unwrapped.

Consumers who have purchased the product and have proper receipt may return product or contact 800-538-8980 Monday to Friday 9-5 PM or contact us at usaoffice@lennoxpets.com for refund and additional information.

RIDOH Advancing Viral Hepatitis Efforts

2019-07-26

As states across the country respond to hepatitis A outbreaks and steep increases in the number of new hepatitis C infections, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) continues to advance several strategies to prevent new cases and eliminate viral hepatitis in Rhode Island.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its ability to process nutrients, filter blood, and fight infections is decreased. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C. Many people living with hepatitis B and C, which can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, and liver cancer, do not know they have it because often there are no symptoms. Hepatitis A does not cause chronic (ongoing) infection.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when people consume food or water that has been contaminated by the fecal matter of an infected person. Hepatitis B is spread when body fluids (such as semen or blood) from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enter the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis C is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person, primarily through sharing needles, syringes, or other injection drug equipment.

"There are many factors in our communities that contribute significantly to viral hepatitis, including homelessness and unstable housing, lack of access to employment opportunities, and stigma and discrimination," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "To effectively address viral hepatitis, we need to get at these underlying determinants of health, and make sure that every community in Rhode Island is supporting health and wellness. Everyone in Rhode Island deserves an equal opportunity to be healthy and thrive."

With World Hepatitis Day approaching on July 28th, RIDOH has several initiatives in place to help prevent hepatitis transmission in Rhode Island. They include:

- Convening a Hepatitis A Task Force to implement a Statewide action plan to prevent an outbreak, given the hepatitis A outbreaks in other states (including Massachusetts). The work of the Task Force has included organizing 27 clinics this year, in partnership with the Rhode Island Medical Reserve Corps, to vaccinate people at high risk of contracting hepatitis A, such as people experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. Approximately 850 people have been vaccinated at these clinics in 10 different municipalities (Providence, Cranston, Newport, Westerly, Woonsocket, Middletown, Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Central Falls, and Richmond). Vaccination efforts will continue through August in additional cities and towns, including East Providence, West Warwick, Pawtucket, Bristol, and Warwick.

- Launching a multimedia campaign encouraging Baby Boomers to "Get Checked for Hep C." Most people in the United States who are living with hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965 and Baby Boomers have a 1 in 30 chance of infection.

- Providing brand new needles and other injecting equipment along with harm-reduction counseling for people who inject drugs, in order to prevent the spread of hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. This work is done in partnership with ENCORE, Rhode Island's needle-exchange program, which is administered by AIDS Care Ocean State.

- Supporting the Rhode Island Department of Corrections' work to enhance hepatitis C screening among inmates with a history of injection drug use at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI). A $50,000 funding award from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is helping advance this work (in addition to other initiatives in Rhode Island).

- Revisiting the core components of Rhode Island's strategic plan to eliminate hepatitis C, given recent medical advances that have made elimination a viable goal for Rhode Island. The plan is a collaborative effort among RIDOH, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services' Medicaid Program, and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. One outcome of this work is that Rhode Island's Medicaid program now covers hepatitis C medication for all Rhode Island Medicaid beneficiaries living with the disease.

Since a new wave of hepatitis A outbreaks were identified in the United States in 2016, 25 states have reported a total of 22,295 cases; 13,184 hospitalizations; and 216 deaths. There have not been any outbreak-associated hepatitis A cases in Rhode Island. However, viral hepatitis remains a serious health concern here. In 2014, among Rhode Islanders, there were 102 known deaths associated with hepatitis C. This represents a five-fold increase when compared to the previous decade, and mirrors national trends. While Baby Boomers are particularly at risk for hepatitis C, the virus has also begun to affect younger Americans as the opioid crisis has worsened.

All Rhode Islanders are invited to support viral hepatitis elimination by attending a 'C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C' on Saturday, August 3rd. Festivities and performances will begin at 7 p.m. at WaterFire Basin. Free, rapid hepatitis C screening will be available. The event is being organized by RI Defeats Hep C, with support from RIDOH and other organizations.

More information about viral hepatitis, free hepatitis C community testing sites, and a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s viral hepatitis risk assessment may be found at health.ri.gov/hep and health.ri.gov/hepc.

RIDOH Urges Precautions to Prevent Heat-related Illness

2019-07-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) urges all Rhode Islanders to take certain precautions over the coming days to keep themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors safe during the extreme heat.

"Extreme heat can be a serious health concern for anyone. However, extreme heat can be particularly dangerous for younger children, older adults, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "With the temperatures that are forecast for the next few days, people should be checking on each other, staying well hydrated, limiting their exposure to the heat, and watching for signs of heat-related illness."

To protect yourself and your family from heat-related illness, take the following precautions:

- Drink more fluids than usual, and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink more fluids. Avoid alcohol or liquids that contain high amounts of sugar.

- Check on friends and neighbors, particularly older adults and those who are caring for young children.

- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you don't have air conditioning at home, see the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA)'s list of cooling centers (Link below).

- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Add a hat if you must be outside.

- Limit outdoor activities, especially at mid-day. If you exercise outdoors, move your workout to a morning or evening time.

- If you work outside, wear sunscreen, pace your activity, stay hydrated, and check on co-workers.

- Take cool showers or baths to cool down, particularly if you're unable to be in an air-conditioned location.

- Avoid turning on your oven, if possible. It will make your house hotter.

- Never leave young children or pets in parked cars, even with the windows down.

- If you have special healthcare needs, consider enrolling in the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry (RISNER). Enrolling in RISNER lets police, fire, and other first responders in your community better prepare for and respond to your needs during an emergency. When enrolling in the registry, a person provides information about their healthcare needs (for example, information about mobility issues, information about a visual or hearing impairment, information about the use of a life support system, such as a respirator). For more information or to enroll, visit health.ri.gov/emregistry or call 211/RI Relay 711.

About heat exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, or clammy skin; a fast or weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. Individuals who have symptoms of heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, lie down, loosen clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to help cool the body down. Seek medical attention if vomiting begins, or if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

About heat stroke:

Heat stroke symptoms include high body temperature (above 103 degrees F) combined with hot, red, dry, or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; confusion; and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. 911 should be called immediately. Individuals experiencing heat stroke symptoms should also be moved to a cooler environment. Apply cool cloths or place the person into a cool bath to lower body temperature. Fans and ice packs can also be used to cool someone. Ice packs should be placed on the neck, under the armpit, or in the groin area (because these are the areas where large arteries are closest to the surface of the skin).

More information about heat stroke and heat exhaustion is available online, as are additional summer safety tips.

Bison Burgers and Ground Bison Recalled

2019-07-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Northfork Bison Distributions is recalling bison burgers and ground bison because they have the potential to be contaminated with E. coli: O121 and O103.

This form of E. coli may cause diarrheal illness. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious damage and even death. Illnesses have been reported in association with this recall.

Pictures of the labels are available online (see below).

The institutions that have bison burgers and ground bison in their inventories with production dates from February 22, 2019 to April 30, 2019 should contact their distributor for a full refund. For retail outlets, the bison burgers in question have an expiration date up to October 8th, 2020, and can be clearly identified by their blue boxes with the Northfork Bison logo. Consumers who have purchased these bison burgers are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Hummus Products Recalled Because of Listeria Concerns

2019-07-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Pita Pal Foods is recalling certain hummus products due to Listeria monocytogenes concerns.

The products were made between May 30, 2019 and June 25, 2019. They were sold under the brand names Bucee's, Fresh Thyme, Harris Teeter, Lantana, Lidl, Pita Pal, Reasor's, Roundy's, Schnucks, and 7-Select. A full product list with UPCs and Use By dates is available online (see below). These products were distributed nationwide.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. No illnesses have been reported to date for these products. The company is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution.

Consumers who have purchased recalled products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at products@pitapal.com.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield

2019-07-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Georgiaville Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Rhode Islanders Urged to Take Precautions in Potter Pond

2019-07-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising members of the public to take precautions when in Potter Pond in South Kingstown after five people were treated in the emergency department over the past three days for jellyfish stings.

Patients' symptoms and their descriptions of the jellyfish suggest that they could have been stung by clinging jellyfish (Gonionemus vertens). This is a species that can have a very powerful sting.

People wading through the pond, especially near aquatic vegetation, should wear boots or waders, and protective clothing. Clinging jellyfish are not known to inhabit ocean beaches or other sandy areas. They tend to attach themselves to submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in back bays, coastal ponds, and estuaries. These are not areas where people regularly swim.

Clinging jellyfish are difficult to spot in water. Adult clinging jellyfish are about the size of a dime and are marked with an orange-brown cross on their transparent bodies. They have sticky pads on their tentacles that allow them to cling to seagrasses and seaweeds.

Last year, RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) received reports about clinging jellyfish in Point Judith Pond in South Kingstown and the Narrow River in Narragansett. They also have been found on Long Island and throughout New Jersey.

People react differently to stings from clinging jellyfish. Symptoms range from no discomfort to severe pain, redness at the sting site, and respiratory and/or neurological problems. Symptoms last roughly three to five days. If someone is stung by a clinging jellyfish, they should:

- Put white vinegar on the sting site to stop any remaining stinging cells.

- Remove any remaining tentacles with fine tweezers. Be sure to wear gloves to prevent additional stings to your hands.

- Soak the skin in hot water (110° - 113°F) or take a hot shower for 20-45 minutes.

If symptoms do not go away or pain gets worse, contact a healthcare provider.

Pet Supplies Plus Recalling Pig Ear Products

2019-07-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising pet owners that Pet Supplies Plus is recalling bulk pig ear products due to the potential for Salmonella contamination. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

The bulk pig ears were distributed to locations in more than two dozens states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The bulk pig ears were stocked in open bins. Prepackaged branded pig ears are not included in this recall.

Symptoms of Salmonella include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Testing by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development revealed that aging bulk pig ear products in a Pet Supplies Plus store tested positive for Salmonella.

Simmons Farm Recalling Certain Cheese Products

2019-07-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Simmons Organic Farm is recalling all flavors and sizes of Chevrie goat cheese and cow's milk cheddar dated on or after June 1, 2019 because of potentially improper pasteurization. Simmons Organic Farm is located in Middletown, Rhode Island.

All products were sold at the farm in Middletown, at the Hope Street Farmers Market in Provbidence, and at Aquidneck Growers Market. People who purchased these products are urged to discard them.

The issue was identified on July 2nd during a routine inspection.

At this time there have been no reports of illnesses.

Pasteurization of milk helps prevent foodborne illnesses, including tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis, scarlet fever, and listeriosis. While most healthy people recover from foodborne illnesses in a short time, some people may develop symptoms that are chronic, severe, or even life-threatening.

Symptoms of foodborne illnesses may include:

- vomiting

- diarrhea

- abdominal pain

- fever

- headache

- body aches

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Melville Pond

2019-07-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Melville Pond in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Melville Pond and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Growers Express Recalls Multiple Fresh Vegetable Products

2019-07-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Growers Express is recalling several select fresh vegetable products, including packaged varieties of butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, and a butternut squashed based veggie bowl. This recalling was issued because these products could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products were distributed to numerous states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The product being recalled in Rhode Island is Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Spirals. A full list of the products being recalled by state is available online (see link below). Most of the affected products are labeled with a "Best If Used By" Date of June 26 - June 29, 2019.

There are no reported illnesses associated with this recall.

Listeria is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who purchased any of these products are urged not to consume them and to throw the products away.

Rhode Islanders Advised to Not Eat Papayas from Mexico

2019-06-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers to not eat any whole, fresh papayas from Mexico. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent out an alert with the same message for consumers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

This alert is connected to an investigation of on outbreak of Salmonella. Sixty-two people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Uganda have been reported from eight states, including one case in Rhode Island. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 14, 2019 to June 8, 2019. Most illnesses have occurred since April 2019. Twenty-three people have been hospitalized. No deaths attributed to Salmonella have been reported.

People should throw away papayas from Mexico, even if some of them were eaten and no one has gotten sick.

Additional guidance:

- Do not eat fruit salads or other mixes that include papayas from Mexico.

- If you aren't sure the papaya you bought is from Mexico, you can ask the place of purchase. When in doubt, don't eat the papaya. Throw it out.

- Wash and sanitize places where papayas were stored: countertops and refrigerator drawers or shelves.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection:

- Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.

- The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

- In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.

- Children younger than 5 years, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

Anyone who experiences the symptoms of Salmonella after eating papaya should contact their healthcare provider.

Cities and Towns Examine Local Overdose Prevention and Response Plans

2019-06-25

Municipal officials, first responders, and treatment and recovery specialists were among the more than 300 people from throughout the state who gathered today to learn from the overdose prevention and response work happening in Rhode Island's cities and towns.

Convened by Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, the Community Overdose Engagement Summit: Bending the Curve, highlighted locally responsive overdose plans developed by 34 Rhode Island municipalities. The local plans align with the Task Force's overarching strategic plan. These local plans were developed by communities to respond to their specific resources, strengths, and challenges. They were supported by grant funding from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and were informed by community-level data compiled, analyzed, and shared by RIDOH.

"The overdose epidemic affects every community in our state, and it's critical that we focus prevention and recovery efforts both at the state and local level," said Governor Raimondo, who attended the event. "Some of the most effective strategies in this fight have come from the front lines-from first responders, harm reduction workers and behavioral health specialists in individual communities. My administration is committed to working with local leaders and experts to prevent overdoses and save lives in every city and town in Rhode Island."

The event was also attended by Tom Coderre, Senior Advisor to Governor Raimondo; Rebecca Boss, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH); and Ana Novais, the Deputy Director of RIDOH.

Examples of initiatives in cities' and towns' local overdose response plans include:

• Richmond's and Hopkinton's municipal officers partnered with the Rhode Island State Police on the Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) Initiative to learn techniques on post-overdose outreach.

• Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Little Compton's fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel trained in Mental Health First Aid with a Bradley Hospital staff member and implemented Safe Stations on Aquidneck Island. Safe Stations helps connect people in crisis to local treatment and recovery support services.

• Providence collaborated with the non-profit organization Project Weber/RENEW (http://www.weberrenew.org/) to conduct outreach in areas of the city where overdoses most commonly occur. Peer recovery specialists from Project Weber/RENEW distributed hundreds of safer drug use resources, such as sterile syringes and fentanyl test strips, to individuals at higher risk for overdose.

"The overdose crisis is a local crisis," said Michelle McKenzie, Director of Preventing Overdose and Naloxone Intervention (PONI) at The Miriam Hospital. "Communities need data and support to implement programs we know can prevent overdoses and save lives in the neighborhoods we serve every day. That is what our Street Outreach and Safer Drug Use/Harm Reduction work in Providence is all about, and that is what the Community Overdose Engagement Summit is all about."

After seeing our number of drug overdose deaths increase for almost a decade, Rhode Island has started to make some progress. The state saw a 6.5% reduction in overdose deaths in the last two years (336 in 2016, versus 314 in 2018).

In addition to municipal officials, first responders, and treatment and recovery specialists, attendees included pharmacists, behavioral health counselors, family and youth substance use prevention organization members, and representatives from Rhode Island's Centers of Excellence, Health Equity Zones (HEZs), and Regional Prevention Coalitions.

Cities and towns first started working on local overdose prevention and response plans in 2017 at the first Community Overdose Engagement Summit. RIDOH made grant funding of up to $5,000 available to the 25 municipalities that started creating plans at that time. Those municipalities were: Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Coventry, East Providence, Exeter, Hopkinton, Little Compton, Narragansett, Newport, North Kingstown, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Richmond, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren, Warwick, West Greenwich, West Warwick, Westerly, and Woonsocket.

The nine additional cities and towns that have since developed local overdose plans are Cranston, East Greenwich, Glocester, Johnston, Lincoln, Middletown, New Shoreham, North Providence, and Smithfield.

Additionally, 20 cities and towns from the first cohort applied for and received additional funding from RIDOH to further focus on one of their main initiatives.

A video that highlights the innovative work of five Rhode Island municipalities that developed comprehensive overdose response plans is available online. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jMtLUTBVgA&feature=youtu.be)

The data used to inform the local overdose prevention and response plans were compiled and analyzed by RIDOH using reports from emergency departments and hospitals in Rhode Island. Emergency departments are required to report suspected opioid overdoses to RIDOH within 48 hours. RIDOH, BHDDH, and the Rhode Island State Fusion Center use these weekly data to monitor increases in opioid overdose activity. (The Rhode Island Fusion Center is a law enforcement partnership.) Alerts about increases in overdose activity within a seven-day period are sent to local leaders, first responders, treatment providers, and other community stakeholders.

RIDOH and DEM Remind Rhode Islanders About Algae Blooms

2019-06-21

With the weather turning warmer and recreational activities on Rhode Island's lakes, ponds, and rivers increasing, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding everyone to be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms on these bodies of water.

Harmful algae blooms caused by blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are characterized by shades of bright to dark green and may have dense, floating algal mats on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Increased temperatures, slow moving water, and excessive amounts of nutrients cause the cyanobacteria to grow quickly and can create colonies of growth called a bloom. Harmful algae blooms are capable of producing toxins, which have the potential to negatively impact humans and animals.

During a harmful algae bloom, all recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest untreated water or eat fish from affected bodies of water. Pets should not be allowed to drink or swim in this water.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing blue-green algae include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. If you come into contact with water affected by a harmful algae bloom, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. If your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water.

People who have had contact with water with algae blooms and who experience the symptoms described above should contact a healthcare provider and call RIDOH at 401-222-7727 to report illness associated with a blue-green algae bloom.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

UNFI Recalling Woodstock Frozen Organic Grilled Red Peppers

2019-06-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that UNFI is recalling its 10-ounce packages of Woodstock frozen Organic Grilled Red Peppers because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The product comes in a 10-ounce plastic package marked with a UPC code 4256301714, lot #60B, and a best by date of April 2020 stamped on the back of the package.

This lot of frozen red peppers is being recalled after routine surveillance sampling at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories found that a sample of this product was positive for Listeria monocytogenes. At this time, there have not been any reports of illnesses associated with this recall.

When consumed in food, Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who have purchased 10-ounce packages of Woodstock frozen Organic Grilled Red Peppers with the indicated lot code above, are urged to dispose of the product properly and to contact the company at ResponseTeam@bluemarblebrands.com with any questions.

RIDOH Helps Prepare Long-Term Care Facilities with Evacuation Exercise

2019-06-19

To help nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other long-term care facilities prepare for and respond to a natural disaster, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island (HCRI) conducted evacuation exercises at facilities throughout the state yesterday and today.

At 113 facilities and communities, residents or volunteers playing the parts of residents had their personal items and medications packed and were moved to holding areas where they waited to be transported to receiving facilities. Although rare, the evacuation of a healthcare facility is a complex event requiring significant coordination within the municipality and the State. The exercise involved staff from the nursing homes and assisted living communities, local police and fire departments, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies, emergency management agencies, RIDOH, and HCRI.

"Preparedness is a core function of public health," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "We have carefully studied previous evacuations, such as one related to the Aquidneck Island gas outage earlier this year, and are incorporating lessons learned. Our aim is to help facilities and the State as a whole be as prepared as possible to support residents, patients, and employees in advance of our next emergency."

Annual evacuation exercises are designed to test the Rhode Island Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan, which helps nursing homes and assisted living communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Initiated in 2013 following Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, Rhode Island's Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan provides a network of support for nursing homes and assisted living communities that allows them to efficiently share resources and receive displaced residents following a facility's or community's evacuation.

Within the past year, the Rhode Island Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan has been used to support an assisted living community evacuation due to loss of air conditioning during a heatwave, a partial nursing home evacuation due to a burst pipe, and the nursing home and assisted living community evacuation from St. Clare Home-Newport during the Aquidneck Island gas outage in January.

"We recognized that the training and exercises that we conducted as part of the Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan were so important when we had to evacuate our facility," said Mary Beth Daignault, the Administrator at St. Clare Home-Newport. "The staff had the opportunity to fill out the forms and practice the processes just months before we had to perform them in a real-world event. This week's exercise reinforced the lessons we learned and will help us continue to grow and improve."

The Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island is a forum for healthcare organizations, public health, EMS, and emergency management agencies to develop a networked plan for interaction and collaboration in disaster-related planning, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts that address Rhode Island's healthcare system. Previous years' exercises have focused on one or two nursing homes and assisted living communities evacuating, while the other facilities and communities accepted their residents. In 2018, the scenario was designed so that each facility and community had the opportunity to test its procedures for evacuation, instead of receipt of residents. Based on the lessons learned from the real-world evacuations, the exercises conducted this week once again forced the evacuation of each facility and community to allow them to build on lessons learned from the 2018 exercises and to emphasize the processes that needed more attention during the real-world evacuations.

RIDOH, the Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island, and RPA (a Jensen-Hughes company that provides fire and emergency management consultation services) helped plan the exercise.

Pillsbury Bread Flour Being Recalled

2019-06-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that certain Pillsbury Best 5 lb. Bread Flour products are being recalled due to a potential presence of pathogenic E. coli.

The following products are affected:

- UPC code - 0 5150020031 5; Lot code - 8 342; Use-by date - JUN 08 2020

- UPC code - 0 5150020031 5; Lot code - 8 343; Use-by date - JUN 09 2020

Approximately 4,620 cases of impacted Pillsbury Best 5 lb. Bread Flour were distributed to a limited number of retailers and distributors across the following 10 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The severity of E. coli infections vary among people and often include several symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. People usually develop symptoms and get sick three to four days after ingesting the germ, and most recover within a week. In some cases, individuals may develop a serious illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. Young children, elderly individuals, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to foodborne illness. If you feel ill or are at all concerned about an illness, please contact your physician.

People who have the affected product in their homes or businesses should not consume it. It should be discarded or returned to the retail location it was purchased from for a refund.

There have been no reports of illnesses associated with this product. Hometown Food Company has been informed by ADM Milling Co., that certain wheat used to make these two lots of Pillsbury Best 5 lb. Bread Flour has been linked to E. coli illnesses associated with other flour products produced at the ADM mill in Buffalo.

Flour is made from wheat, which is a raw product that is minimally processed. Flour is not a ready-to-eat product. It is an ingredient for baked, fried and cooked recipes, and these heating processes, along with proper handling, ensure the safety of consuming flour. All surfaces and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should wash their hands after handling flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour.

King Arthur Flour Recalling Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2019-06-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that King Arthur Flour, Inc. is recalling 14,218 cases of 5 lb. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour due to the potential presence of Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli).

The recalled Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (5 lb.) was distributed through retailers and distributors nationwide. The products affected by this recall have the following "best used by" dates and lot codes:

BEST USED BY 12/07/19 LOT: L18A07C

BEST USED BY 12/08/19 LOTS: L18A08A, L18A08B

BEST USED BY 12/14/19 LOTS: L18A14A, L18A14B, L18A14C

E. coli causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with King Arthur flour.

Consumers who have any of these affected products should not consume them and should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for credit or refund.

Consumer should remember that flour is not ready-to-eat, and anything made with flour must be baked before eating. Consumers are also reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.

Rhode Islanders Reminded About Food Safety Precautions

2019-06-07

With the summer approaching, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to help keep themselves and their family members healthy and safe by taking certain precautions when storing and preparing food.

"Healthy eating is not only about choosing nutritious foods, but also about eating foods that are manufactured, stored, and prepared safely," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "It is going to be a beautiful weekend in Rhode Island. If your plans include barbecuing or sharing a meal with family and friends in any other way, there are a few simple steps you can take to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe."

Rhode Islanders should remember to:

- Thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom and before any food preparation.

- Thoroughly cook meat, such as hamburgers and chicken. Do not wash poultry (just thoroughly cook it). Washing poultry tends to spread Salmonella, Campylobacter, and other dangerous bacteria.

- Not prepare food for others if you are sick with a gastrointestinal illness (sometimes called a "stomach bug").

- Not let food sit out at room temperature if it requires temperature control. Food that requires temperature control should be refrigerated as soon as possible.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have declared June 7th as World Food Safety Day. This is the first time this declaration has been made. Globally, an estimated 600 million people (almost 1 in 10 people in the world) fall ill after eating contaminated food every year and 420,000 people die every year because of contaminated food. Children younger than 5 years old carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden.

Whole Foods Market Recalling Basil and Tomato Pesto

2019-06-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Whole Foods Market stores in the northeast are recalling the retailer's specialty made in-house basil pesto and specialty made in-house sundried tomato pesto because the products may contain undeclared milk and tree nuts (walnuts and pine nuts). People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to these allergens run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The products were available in individual clear plastic containers and on antipasti bars with sell-by dates from June 7, 2019 - June 26, 2019. The specialty basil pesto was sold by the pound and can be identified by the PLU code beginning with 255926, and the specialty sundried tomato pesto was sold by the pound and can be identified by the PLU code beginning with 256009. Both sell-by dates and PLU codes are printed on the product scale labels. All affected products have been removed from store shelves. One allergic reaction has been reported to date. The issue was discovered after a customer alerted the store.

The pesto products were sold between May 17, 2019 and June 4, 2019 at 41 Whole Foods Market stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Customers who purchased this product at Whole Foods Market can bring a valid receipt into stores for a full refund. Consumers with additional questions can call 1-844-936-8255 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, or 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.

ADM Milling Co. and ALDI Recall All Purpose Flour from Northeastern US: RIDOH Contributes to Multi-State Investigation

2019-05-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that ADM Milling Co. and ALDI have recalled five-pound bags of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour sold at retail locations in the northeastern United States because it may be contaminated with E. coli.

This is an update to a previous press announcement made by RIDOH. On May 22nd, RIDOH advised people to not eat flour from five-pound bags of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour with lot code L18A02B and a "best if used by" date of December 02, 2019. This product was sourced from an ADM Milling Co. production facility in Buffalo, N.Y. and was distributed to select ALDI stores in 11 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. The Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour affected by the ADM Milling Co. recall is sold in a 5 lb. bag with the following UPC code: 041498130404. Out of an abundance of caution, ALDI has recalled all "best if used by" dates and all lots of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour products produced by ADM Milling Co. in Buffalo, N.Y. from store shelves in these states. People are now advised to not consume this flour.

This advisory has been expanded because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli infections likely linked to flour. Seventeen cases have been reported in eight states, including one case in Rhode Island.

Investigators with RIDOH's Center for Food Protection collected records and flour samples at a bakery where an ill person reported eating raw dough. Records indicated that the bakery used Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour from ALDI. The outbreak strain was isolated at the RIDOH State Health Laboratories from an unopened bag of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour collected at the bakery. Whole genome sequencing results showed that the E. coli strain identified in the Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour sample was closely related genetically to the E. coli strain identified in ill people in several states. The food source of the E.coli strain cultured from the remaining cases remains under investigation.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary among people but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. People usually get sick 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week. However, some people may develop a serious type of illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. Young children, elderly people, individuals who are immunocompromised, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness. Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying, or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter. More information about the risks of consuming raw dough is online at https://www.cdc.gov/features/no-raw-dough/index.html.

Health Advisory About Baker's Corner Flour

2019-05-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising people to not consume flour from five-pound bags of Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour packed for ALDI with lot code L18A02B and a "best if used by" date of December 02, 2019.

This advisory is being issued because of the potential presence of E. coli, which was discovered during testing of a five-pound bag of Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. This advisory only affects this one lot code of Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour five-pound bags. All other types of Baker's Corner flour are not affected. Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product.

Product information:

- 5 lb. Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour

- Package Lot Number - L18A02B

- Best If Used By Date - 12/02/19

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary among people but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. People usually get sick 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week. However, some people may develop a serious type of illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. Young children, elderly people, individuals who are immunocompromised, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness. Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying, or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.

Karawan Brand Tahini Recalled

2019-05-17

A recall has been issued for Karawan brand Tahini sold in 16-ounce jars and 39-pound buckets that were imported from Palestine between December 2018 and January 2019. These products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Karawan brand Tahini was directly distributed to New York and Texas. Distributors then shipped the product to Massachusetts and Virginia. Specific information on how to identify the product includes:

a. Name of product: Tahini

b. Brand name: Karawan Tahini

c. Unit size: Jar: 450g (15.87oz) and Buckets: 17kg (599.6 oz)

d. Storage conditions: No refrigeration storage needed.

e. Expiration Date (s): Two years from the production. The expiration date is located on the lid of the containers.

Four illnesses have been reported to date.

This recall has been initiated due to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene laboratory results from two samples of Karawan brand tahini testing positive for Salmonella. Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC has ceased the importation and distribution of the product as FDA and Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

Consumers who have purchased Karawan brand tahini are urged to destroy it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC at 305-570-9050, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

RIDOH Announces New Health Equity Zones

2019-05-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that it is expanding support and funding to three new communities to establish Health Equity Zones. East Providence, Cranston, and Providence's West End neighborhood were chosen through a competitive process that drew nearly 20 applicants from communities across the State. These new communities will share approximately $1.4 million in funding with seven existing Health Equity Zones receiving support to continue their work in local communities.

RIDOH's Health Equity Zone initiative is an innovative, place-based approach that brings people together to build healthy, resilient communities across Rhode Island. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to 80% of health outcomes are determined by factors outside clinical settings, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods. The model encourages and equips community members and partners to collaborate to address factors like these and create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play.

"We are thrilled to expand our Health Equity Zones initiative to additional Rhode Island communities," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "With plans for strong mentorship from existing Health Equity Zones, these communities are taking the forces that shape their health and well-being into their own hands. I can't wait to see what they accomplish over the next few years as we continue to lift up this initiative as a national model of how such an infrastructure led by community members can create the conditions needed for every person to thrive."

Each successful application was submitted by a municipal or nonprofit, community-based organization that will serve as the "backbone agency" for the local Health Equity Zone. These agencies, which include East Bay Community Action Program, Comprehensive Community Action Plan, and West Elmwood Housing Corporation, will facilitate a community-led process to organize a collaborative of community partners, conduct a needs assessment, and implement a data-driven plan of action to address the obstacles to health and well-being in local neighborhoods. RIDOH will provide seed funding and support to ensure that communities ground their work in public health principles and best practices, so that measurable outcomes are reached and evaluated.

Existing Health Equity Zone Collaboratives include residents, diverse community-based organizations, youth-serving organizations, educators, business leaders, health professionals, transportation experts, and people in many other fields who are coming together to address the most pressing health concerns in their neighborhoods.

The initial year-long contract period will begin in approximately July 2019 and may be renewed for up to four additional 12-month periods based on HEZ performance outcomes evaluated and based on the availability of funds.

To learn more about how to partner with RIDOH to support the Health Equity Zone model in Rhode Island, write to: Ana.Novais@health.ri.gov.

Rhode Island Teens Kick Butts with Zombie Walk and State House Rally

2019-05-02

Dressed as zombies representing smokers risen from the dead, dozens of Rhode Island teenagers held a Kick Butts Day Zombie Walk at the Rhode Island State House today to warn the living about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use.

The event culminated with a rally where the teens called on leaders to resist tobacco and vaping industry practices that target youth, to raise the minimum legal age for all tobacco product sales to 21, and to support communities working to prevent tobacco-related disease and deaths. The teens were joined by Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Gustavo Torres from the national Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

"We're standing up to the vaping and tobacco industry to say 'raise the age or we'll rage!' to stop selling and pushing your unsafe e-cigarettes and vaping devices to kids and teens," said Thyandra Martinez, a senior who attends West Warwick High School. "Big Tobacco is lining up teens as 'new customers' with candy-flavored e-cigarettes and vaping, even though nicotine can ruin our brains, our education, and our lives. Don't be fooled, underage teens! Vape is not the answer, smoking causes cancer!"

"E-cigarettes are highly addictive and they are very dangerous, especially for young people," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "I commend every one of these teenagers for stepping up and fighting back. We need to follow their lead and do everything we can to prevent youth tobacco and e-cigarette use, with a focus on the vulnerable communities where companies continue to push their shameless marketing tactics most aggressively. Every person in every community in Rhode Island deserves an equal opportunity to be healthy, without marketing harmfully targeting their community."

In Rhode Island, 20% of high school teens reported current use of e-cigarettes in 2017 according to the State's Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) facilitated by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

The human brain continues forming important connections until roughly 26 years of age. Nicotine exposure for kids, teens, and young adults can "prime" the brain for addictions to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, stunt brain growth, and cause problems with learning, memory, mood, impulse control, and decision-making, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. The FDA recently began to investigate links between e-cigarette use and seizures after receiving reports involving primarily teens and young adults.

Despite state and federal laws that prohibit sales to people younger than 18 years of age, tobacco addiction is primarily established during adolescence, followed by early adulthood. Ninety percent of adult smokers first light up as a kid or teen, and less than 1% begin smoking after age 26.

An estimated 16,000 more teenagers alive today in Rhode Island will one day die from smoking-related illnesses. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of premature death in the United States and Rhode Island. Over the last three years, 12 states have passed tobacco-to-21 laws to address this issue, including Massachusetts and Maine.

"For decades, Big Tobacco has skirted laws and carved out loopholes to market and sell to young people because they understand the science of how teen brains grow and how lifelong customers first get addicted to nicotine," said Gustavo Torrez of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. "Not surprising, the cigarette and e-cigarette industries in recent years have joined forces, and we now see that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke deadly lit cigarettes. More can be done to protect youth from the growing predatory tobacco industries, and that's why we're seeing many more states and cities raising the tobacco sale age to 21 and banning kid-friendly, candy-like flavored tobacco products."

Kick Butts Day activities are held nationally and are sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to showcase teen creativity that demonstrates how tobacco and nicotine use can quickly addict young people, harm brain development, cause chronic disease, disfigure, and kill.

Teens also took to social media to get their messages out more widely, using hashtags #iKickButts, #RIEndGame, and #BeTheFirst. Four teen groups also continued to share the home-grown videos they had produced for a Tobacco Free Teen Alliance PSA Challenge. The PSA challenge winners were: Best Overall Winner - West Warwick Public Schools STAAND Chapter; Fan Favorite Winner - East Bay Regional Coalition; and Runners Up - AS220-Providence and Blackstone Valley Region-Central Falls.

Free support is available to quit smoking. The Rhode Island Smoker's Helpline provides counseling by phone, nicotine replacement products, online and digital support tools, local referrals, and more. In addition to adult smokers, teens who use e-cigarettes or nicotine in any form may also call the Rhode Island Smoker's Helpline for free age-appropriate quit counseling and other support. All services are supported by RIDOH. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669).

The Rhode Island "Kick Butts Day Zombie Walk" was sponsored by the RIDOH Tobacco Control Program, Office of Rural Health, and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, in partnership with Tobacco Free Teen Alliance from the following communities: Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, East Providence, Providence (AS220), West Warwick, Warren, Woonsocket, and more.

Flu No Longer Widespread in Rhode Island

2019-04-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has alerted healthcare providers that the flu is no longer widespread in Rhode Island, which means that healthcare workers who have not been immunized against the flu are no longer required to wear surgical masks during direct patient contact.

The flu had been declared widespread in Rhode Island on January 2, 2019. 'Widespread' is the highest tier in the five-tier system that RIDOH uses to categorize flu activity in the state.

"Although the flu is no longer widespread in Rhode Island, it is still present in the state. Anyone who has not been vaccinated yet should be vaccinated as soon as possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "When you get a flu shot, you are not just protecting yourself. You are also protecting the ones you love by preventing the spread of the flu. Year in and year out, flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu."

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone older than 6 months of age. It is especially important for healthcare workers, pregnant women, senior citizens, young children, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and asthma.

The flu spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes near another person. The flu may also spread when people touch something covered with infected droplets and then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.

Beyond vaccination, there are other measures that Rhode Islanders should take prevent the spread of the flu. They include:

- Hand washing often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Coughing or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

RIDOH Launches New Opioid Public Awareness Campaign

2019-04-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today launched Over the Dose RI, a multi-channel education campaign designed to reduce the misuse and abuse of opioid pain medications by Rhode Islanders ages 18 to 50. The announcement was made at the monthly meeting of Governor Gina Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The campaign is closely aligned with the Task Force's Strategic Plan to reduce overdose deaths.

The campaign is adapted from Over the Dose VT, a successful, data-driven campaign developed by Rescue Agency Public Benefit for the Vermont Department of Health. Educational content features information on the risks of opioids, how they affect the body, and how they interact with substances like alcohol.

The campaign includes social and digital media as well as a website, OvertheDoseRI.org, which uses simple language to explain the science of opioid dependence, addiction, and withdrawal. An animated video Public Service Announcement (PSA) and educational modules motivate user-engagement by introducing interactive elements.

"Opioids are appropriate medication for some people in certain situations. But for most people, non-opioid pain management alternatives are much safer and are just as effective," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Our aim is to empower people to be informed participants in the decision-making process about how to manage their pain, and how to heal as safely as possible."

Non-opioid pain management alternatives include (but are not limited to) chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Formative research conducted for Over the Dose VT and Rescue Agency revealed that high-risk young adults ages 18 to 25 perceived opioids as carrying little to no risk for occasional, recreational use because they did not know what opioids are or how opioids could harm them. Research participants believed that overdoses only happen in extreme cases; some participants did not perceive the serious consequences of mixing opioids with other substances.

Over the Dose RI aims to expand this educational messaging to Rhode Islanders up to age 50. The paid social media and digital campaign uses interest-based targeting and dynamic content to capture a wide range of audiences.

The Over the Dose RI social and digital media campaign will continue through mid-June 2019. Ads will run on Facebook and Instagram, which have been selected for their reach to 18 to 50-year-olds. The strategic social media campaign will direct people to OvertheDoseRI.org [health.us5.list-manage.com] and to resources on the State's overdose data dashboard and website, PreventOverdoseRI.org [health.us5.list-manage.com].

Rhode Islanders can call the 24/7 crisis hotline - 401-414-LINK (5465) - to learn more about statewide treatment and recovery support services for opioid use disorder. English and Spanish-speaking counselors are available to help answer questions and offer connection to local resources.

FDA Reports Some E-cigarette Users Are Having Seizures

2019-04-03

The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) has become aware that some people who use e-cigarettes have experienced seizures, with most reports involving young people.

The FDA and poison control centers receive voluntary adverse experience reports about tobacco products. After examining reports between 2010 and early 2019, the FDA determined that there were 35 reported cases of seizures mentioning use of e-cigarettes within that timeframe. Due to the voluntary nature of these case reports, there may be more instances of seizure in e-cigarette users than have been reported.

Seizures have been reported among first-time e-cigarette users and experienced users. In a few situations, e-cigarette users reported a prior history of seizure diagnosis. A few reported cases indicated seizures in association with use of other substances such as marijuana or amphetamines. Seizures have been reported as occurring after a few puffs or up to one day after use. Most of the self-reported data that the FDA has received does not contain any specific brand or sub-brand information about the e-cigarette.

The FDA is seeking more information about seizures following e-cigarette use to identify common risk factors and understand if any e-cigarette product attributes such as nicotine content or formulation may contribute to seizures. If you or someone you know experiences any unexpected health or safety issues with any tobacco product, please report it through the online Safety Reporting Portal.

Rhode Islanders should recognize the wide range of symptoms that may be associated with e-cigarette use. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has known health effects. Nicotine is highly addictive, and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Additionally, nicotine is very dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies.

Parents, teachers, and other concerned adults should be aware that many youth are using e-cigarettes that closely resemble a USB flash drive, have high levels of nicotine and emissions that are hard to see. Youth and young adult users should also be aware that some e-cigarettes (also called vapes) can contain high levels of nicotine, even as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes. Teens who vape may end up addicted to nicotine faster than teens who smoke. Vapes may be used more frequently because they are easier to hide and may expose users to more nicotine. There are no safe tobacco products.

Seizures result from sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Though often associated with convulsions in which a person's entire body shakes uncontrollably, not all seizures show full-body shaking. Other possible signs of seizures include a lapse in awareness or consciousness, which may look like a person is staring blankly into space for a few seconds or suddenly stops moving. The person may or may not fall down. Most seizures end in a few seconds or minutes, and the person may seem fine, sleepy, confused or have a headache afterwards. If you think a person is having a seizure, call 911 and seek immediate medical help. For exposures with less serious visible effects or if you have questions, call poison control at 800-222-1222.

Teens, parents, and others who use e-cigarettes should ask their doctor or counselor about age-appropriate, safe, and effective treatment for nicotine addiction or call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). The Rhode Island Smoker's Helpline can provide free quit support from trained tobacco treatment specialists, guidance for parents, and referrals to local tobacco cessation services.

Media Advisory: Rhode Island's Cross-Campus Learning Collaborative Kicks Off Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Photo-documentary Event at the State House

2019-04-03

On Friday, April 5th at 3:00pm, the Cross-Campus Learning Collaborative will host a free event at the State House to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event will showcase Rhode Island native, Kate Ryan's Signed, X, a photographic documentary of the lives of survivors of sexual violence. Ryan, a New York City-based human rights journalist and photographer, will be featured as a discussion panelist alongside other survivors, advocates, and local artists.

Young adults, parents, and adults who work with young people are encouraged to attend and learn about the prevalence of sexual violence and intimate partner violence are in Rhode Island, and to make a personal connection by reading survivors' candid stories, which reveal the long-term and rippling impacts of sexual violence.

From depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, to substance use disorders and other addictions, these are issues that all communities face. Attendees can expect to gain a deeper understanding of trauma, ways that they can more effectively support survivors, and how to prevent sexual violence. Survivors may also find it helpful to see that they are not alone in their healing from the trauma of sexual violence.

The event was organized by the RI Cross-Campus Learning Collaborative, a group of sexual violence prevention staff from 11 Rhode Island colleges, with support from Day One and the Rhode Island Department of Health. It is sponsored by The Deborah DeBare Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, administered by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and established by the Rhode Island General Assembly (R.I.G.L. § 12-29-12).

This event is free, open to the public, and refreshments will be provided. Please register at https://bit.ly/2K1vEgJ.

WHO

-State Representative Theresa Tanzi

-Kate Ryan, NYC-based human rights journalist and photographer, and creator of the Signed, X project

-Jane Johnson, co-owner of SurvivorsSpeakRI, a legislative advocacy and education organization

-Melina Freeman, leader of the RI Student Collaborative for Sexual Violence Prevention

-Somali DaSilva, domestic violence and housing advocate, Sojourner House

WHERE

Rhode Island State House

State Room

82 Smith St, Providence, Rhode Island

WHEN

April 5, 2019

3 p.m. (Panel to begin at 3:45 p.m.)

Additional resources for sexual violence:

Rhode Island Student Collaborative: https://riscinitiative.wixsite.com/risc

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/prevention.html

Rhode Island Department of Health: http://www.health.ri.gov/violence/about/sexual/

Day One: https://www.dayoneri.org

RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ricadv.org/

PFAS Sampling to Start on Select Water Systems in Rhode Island

2019-03-21

As a part of efforts to ensure the health and safety of Rhode Island's drinking water supply, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and researchers from Brown University will begin sampling at approximately 50 water systems throughout the state next week to collect data on a group of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a variety of products and applications that are resistant to water, grease, or stains, including non-stick cookware, carpets, upholstered furniture, clothing, and food packaging. The majority of PFAS have been phased out in the United States because of concerns about health effects. Examples of facilities that have the potential to still contain these chemicals due to use or disposal include industrial factories, airports, firefighting facilities, and landfills.

"Sampling for PFAS is one of the many forms of rigorous, frequent testing that is done on Rhode Island's water supply," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Although exposure to PFAS from everyday consumer products is common, research suggests that prolonged exposure at high levels may be unhealthy for some people. This water sampling initiative will help us identify any sources of PFAS in Rhode Island and partner with water systems to ensure that customers are notified and treatment plans are put in place right away."

The sampling to start next week is a follow-up to previous rounds of sampling. Between 2013 and 2015, all public water systems in Rhode Island serving more than 10,000 people were tested for PFAS. In 2017, RIDOH and Brown sampled 41 smaller public water systems and licensed child care facilities near potential sources of PFAS after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the health advisory for these chemicals. These additional 50 systems are being tested to further assess the situation in Rhode Island and because new information is available about potential sources of PFAS. States throughout the country have done, and are doing, similar sampling. The data gathered will help state and local agencies (such as RIDOH, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and town planners) understand the occurrence of these chemicals in Rhode Island.

In previous rounds of sampling, one water system in Rhode Island exceeded the EPA health advisory level. (This water system - Oakland Association, located in a section of Burrillville - is in the process of connecting to a municipal water system.) PFAS was detected in 11 other public water systems, but at levels below the EPA's health advisory level.

The water sampling to start next week will take place through June for public wells and licensed child care facility wells located within a half mile of a fire station and for all schools that are stand-alone public water systems that have not yet been sampled. In addition, re-sampling will occur at water systems serving over 10,000 people.

Two specific types of PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The EPA health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA or PFOS, or a combination of PFOA and PFOS. Before 2016, the health advisory level had been 200 ppt for PFOA and 400 ppt for PFOS.

Researchers are still learning about the health effects of exposure to PFAS. However, the EPA's health advisory levels are developed to include a margin of protection to prevent exposure to water at levels that could be harmful to more vulnerable populations. Scientists believe that pregnant women and children could be more vulnerable to PFAS. Studies indicate that exposure to PFAS at levels higher than the health advisory level could result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants. Other potential health effects are cancer and damage to the liver, immune system, and thyroid.

With the support of federal resources, RIDOH is funding the sample analysis. Sampling will be conducted by researchers from the Brown University Superfund Research Program (more information at the link below) in collaboration with Texas Tech University and RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality. The samples will be tested by the RIDOH State Health Laboratories. These Brown University staff and graduate students have been trained in the specific protocol for collecting the water samples.

Raw Turkey Products Recalled

2019-03-15

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Butterball, LLC is recalling 78,164 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Schwarzengrund.

The prepacked raw ground turkey was produced on July 7, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC codes 22655-71555 or 22655-71557 represented on the label.

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71556 represented on the label.

- 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71546 represented on the label.

- 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC codes 22655-71547 or 22655-71561 represented on the label

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "Kroger GROUND TURKEY FRESH 85% LEAN - 15% FAT" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC code 111141097993 represented on the label.

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "FOOD LION 15% fat ground turkey with natural flavorings" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 3582609294 represented on the label.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. P-7345" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to institutional and retail locations nationwide.

Federal officials and officials in Wisconsin have been investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Schwarzengrund illnesses involving five case patients from two states. Wisconsin collected three intact Butterball brand ground turkey samples from a residence where four of the case patients live. The case patients and ground turkey Salmonella Schwarzengrund isolates are closely related, genetically.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

These products could be frozen and in consumers' freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions should call (800) 288-8372.

Pillsbury Unbleached All-Purpose Flour Being Recalled

2019-03-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the Hometown Food Company is recalling two lot codes of its five-pound bags of Pillsbury Unbleached All-Purpose Flour because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Roughly 12,245 cases of impacted products were distributed through retailers and distributors nationwide. Only 'Best If Used By Dates' APR 19 2020 and APR 20 2020 are impacted. More details about the recalled products are available online [see link below]. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

There have been no reports of any illnesses associated with this recall.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Flour is made from wheat that is minimally processed. Flour should not be considered a ready-to-eat product. It is an ingredient for baked, fried, and cooked products, and these heating processes ensure the safety of flour with proper handling. All surfaces and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should wash their hands after handling flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour. If you think you became sick from a food containing flour as an ingredient, call your healthcare provider.

New EMS Data Indicate Continued Need for Community Naloxone Use

2019-03-11

New Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) data indicate that more than a third of the opioid overdose calls to which Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded in Rhode Island in 2018 occurred in public places. Public health leaders are again urging all Rhode Islanders who are comfortable doing so to carry naloxone, the overdose reversal medication.

The data, published on March 1, 2019 in the Rhode Island Medical Journal, indicate that 34.2% of the opioid overdoses that EMS responded to in 2018 occurred in public places. That figure was 29.6% in 2016. Examples of public places include streets, parking lots, restaurants, stores, and beaches.

"Naloxone can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies throughout Rhode Island, and it is as easy to use as nasal spray," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "We are starting to make some progress in addressing the drug overdose crisis. However, as this report demonstrates, this is a changing epidemic. With so many overdoses happening in everyday places, and sometimes in plain sight, everyone can play a role in preventing overdoses and saving lives."

For the first 10 months of 2018, Rhode Island saw a 6.1% decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths, compared to the first 10 months of 2017. A total of 324 Rhode Islanders died due to drug overdose in all of 2017. Rhode Island's 2018 overdose data should be finalized in the coming weeks, as toxicology results are still pending for many of the deaths that occurred in November and December.

"When someone overdoses on an opioid, they need help immediately. If naloxone is administered quickly, it can reverse the overdose effects, usually within minutes," said Jason Rhodes, MPA, AEMT-C, Chief of the Center for Emergency Medical Services at RIDOH. "By carrying naloxone and using it when it is needed, everyone has the ability to be a first responder and save a life."

A Good Samaritan law in Rhode Island protects people from legal liability if they are making a good faith effort to assist a person in a medical emergency, including a suspected overdose.

The lead authors of the study published in the Rhode Island Medical Journal were Leanne Lasher, MPH, the Program Manager of Opioid Overdose Surveillance at RIDOH; Jason Rhodes, MPA, AEMT-C, Chief of the Center for Emergency Medical Services at RIDOH; and Samara Viner-Brown, MS, Chief of the Center for Health Data Health Data and Analysis and Public Health Informatics at RIDOH.

Governor Gina Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force distributed more than 16,000 naloxone kits in 2018, more than double the number in 2017. The steps taken to expand naloxone availability throughout Rhode Island include:

- Partnering with outreach organizations and peer recovery specialists to get naloxone to people at highest risk. Examples of outreach organizations include The Providence Center's Anchor Recovery Mobile Outreach Recovery Efforts (MORE), Project Weber/RENEW, AIDS Care Ocean State's ENCORE Needle Exchange Program, and Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES).

- Implementing a new regulation that requires prescribers of controlled substances to co-prescribe naloxone to patients who are at a higher risk of overdose.

- Working with city and town law enforcement to make naloxone available to all officers.

- Funding (through an RIDOH mini-grant) the development of NaloxBoxes, a mountable container that includes naloxone and all the necessary life-saving supplies to reverse a suspected overdose. Rhode Islanders can go online to locate public NaloxBoxes (see link below).

Governor Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force is co-chaired by Dr. Alexander-Scott, Director Rebecca Boss of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), and Tom Coderre, Senior Advisor to Governor Raimondo.

The data in the article were compiled as a result of updated regulations for EMS agencies that were enacted in January 2019. EMS professionals now must upload patient care reports from EMS incidents within two hours of completing a call. RIDOH is working to create a real-time automated overdose outbreak detection system with web-based dashboards and alerts.

The complete article, titled Identification and Description of Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Using Rhode Island EMS Data, 2016-2018, is available online (see link below).

Thrive Market Recalling Nut Butters

2019-01-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Thrive Market is recalling all unexpired lots of the Thrive Market brand nut butters listed below due to the potential for contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

- Thrive Market Organic Creamy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Non-GMO Creamy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Crunchy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Non-GMO Crunchy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

- Thrive Market Sesame Tahini

- Thrive Market Creamy Cashew Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Coconut Butter

- Thrive Market Sunflower Butter

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in pregnant women, young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

These products were distributed nationwide through Thrive Market's ecommerce subscription service to its members, as well as other online retailers.

These products should be thrown away. Consumers with questions should write to help@thrivemarket.com

Rhode Islanders Urged to Seek Medical Care in the Most Appropriate Setting

2019-01-28

With Rhode Island seeing increases in cases of the flu and other seasonal viruses, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to seek medical care in settings where they will be most appropriately treated. People who do not need emergency care should avoid going to emergency departments.

Many illnesses and injuries do not require an emergency department visit, including routine cases of the flu in people who are not at risk of developing flu-related complications from underlying medical conditions. These cases of the flu are often more quickly (and just as effectively) treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility than in an emergency department. However, some people are more likely to get complications from the flu that should be treated in an emergency department. A list of those at high-risk of developing flu-related complications can be found on the website of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (see link below). Emergency warning signs of flu sickness that indicate a need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. A full list of emergency warning signs of flu sickness in infants, children, and adults can be found on the CDC's website (see link below).

If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider can give you guidance about the next best step for you or your child, and most offices have physician on-call after hours. RIDOH has a list of primary care providers online (see link below).

"Emergency departments are perfect for emergency situations. If someone is experiencing a serious health issue, they should absolutely call 911 or go to an emergency department right away. However, emergency departments treat patients with the most serious health issues first, which means that people with less severe conditions may experience long waits," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Keep the phone number for your primary care provider handy and know where your nearest urgent care facility is. An urgent care facility, or other type of express care facility is often a more convenient, less expensive option."

RIDOH has information and lists online [health.us5.list-manage.com] for urgent care facilities, community health centers, and other express care facilities in the state.

Examples of health issues that are often better treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility include:

- Less severe cases of the flu

- Back pain

- Minor cuts

- Sore throats

- Low-grade fevers

- Most cases of norovirus

Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach illness that can cause people to have extreme vomiting or diarrhea for 24-28 hours. Norovirus is found in the stool and vomit of an infected person and can spread by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus; or if an infected person vomits in a public space.

Other steps that people should take to keep themselves healthy and safe from the flu, norovirus, and other viruses include:

- Get vaccinated against the flu. The flu is in Rhode Island every year through the end of the spring. By being vaccinated now, you can still get several months of protection.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

- Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food.

- Stay home if you are sick and keep children home from school if they are sick.

- After an episode of illness that involves vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or a solution made by adding 5-25 tablespoons of household bleach to one gallon of water.

- If you have norovirus, do not prepare food for other people until three days after your symptoms clear.

For more information, people can call 401-222-5960 or visit http://www.health.ri.gov

Baby Spinach Recall Affects Prepared Food Items from Whole Foods

2019-01-25

In response to a recall by Satur Farms, Whole Foods Market is recalling various prepared foods items containing baby spinach because of a potential contamination of Salmonella. The products being recalled in Rhode Island include:

- Chicken Florentine Panini

- Golden Beet & Tangerine Salad

- Locavore Cheese Steak Wrap

- Mediterranean Stuffed Salmon

- Quinoa with Dark Leafy Greens

- Roasted Vegetables Panini

- Salad Spring Berry Power

- Smoked Turkey with Apple & Cheddar Sandwich

- Spinach and Vegetable Quinoa Salad

- Spinach Ravioli Salad with Lemon, Tomato, and Parmesan

- Strawberry Balsamic Quinoa

- Tofu Shawarma Wrap

- Turkey Avocado Sandwich (Turkado Sandwich)

- Turkey with Spinach & Feta Sandwich

- Vegan Spinach Almond Ricotta Pizza

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Recalled products should be thrown away. Customers who purchased these products can bring a valid receipt into stores for a full refund. Consumers with additional questions can call 1-844-936-8255.

RIDOH Calls for Proposals to Build Healthy, Resilient Communities

2019-01-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is soliciting proposals from qualified municipalities and non-profit community-based organizations to expand its Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative to additional communities. RIDOH will distribute approximately $1.4 million through this funding opportunity. Existing Health Equity Zones, and new communities seeking to create Health Equity Zones, can both apply for funding.

RIDOH's Health Equity Zone initiative is an innovative, place-based approach that brings people together to build healthy, resilient communities across Rhode Island. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to eighty percent of health outcomes are determined by factors outside clinical settings, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods. The model encourages and equips community members and partners to collaborate to address factors like these and create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play.

"Every Rhode Islander, in every ZIP code, should have the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, in the healthiest community possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "A key feature of our Health Equity Zone initiative is that it puts the community's voice front and center, since residents understand the challenges facing their communities the best. Public health leaders across the country are highlighting Health Equity Zones as a national model and a novel approach to funding and delivering public health services by building leadership capacity and effective coordination of communities to sustain long-term system and policy improvements. We are thrilled to expand this opportunity to additional communities here in Rhode Island."

Rhode Island currently has nine Health Equity Zones in communities across the State. Existing Health Equity Zone Collaboratives include residents, diverse community-based organizations, business people, transportation and planning experts, youth-serving organizations, educators, health professionals, and people in many other fields who are coming together in their distinct communities to address the most pressing concerns in their neighborhoods.

"What makes our HEZ strong is that it's a collaborative effort with more than 40 agencies involved who provide insight and expertise - it's not one organization doing the work," says Linda Weisinger, Executive Director of Pawtucket Central Falls Development (PCFD), a non-profit community development organization in the Pawtucket-Central Falls Health Equity Zone. "As a team, we are much stronger, more productive and work with each other to achieve concrete goals that work for our neighborhoods."

The Harvest Kitchen Cafe in Pawtucket serves as one example of this work in action. "The Harvest Kitchen Cafe has blossomed with the support of the HEZ," said Jen Stott, Harvest Kitchen Program Director. "Through PCFD we have the perfect location for our local foods Cafe and culinary job training program for youth, and the HEZ partnerships have provided resources for continued success. Our HEZ partner at Southside Community Land Trust is a source of fresh produce through their new local community gardens. Catering opportunities and collaborative learning opportunities for our trainees from supportive community partners like Agnes Little Elementary allow us to tap into programs like the Pawtucket Homework Diner. These collaborations allow Harvest Kitchen to operate successfully and create healthy food options in an area where there had been little choice. This important community hub would not have become this successful without the HEZ bringing together many partners to get it done."

Through a collaborative process, funded communities will conduct a needs assessment to build and implement a data-driven plan of action to address the factors that keep people in their neighborhoods from achieving their full potential. RIDOH will provide seed funding and support to ensure communities implement the HEZ model in line with core public health principles.

Letters of intent from communities seeking to create new Health Equity Zones are due by February 1, 2019. Full proposals from all applicants are due to the State by March 15, 2019. The initial contract period will begin in approximately July 2019 and continue for one year. Contracts may be renewed for up to four additional 12-month periods, similar to the previous four years, based on vendor performance and the availability of funds.

To learn more about RIDOH's Health Equity Zone initiative, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/hez [health.us5.list-manage.com].

General Mills Recalling Unbleached Flour

2019-01-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that General Mills is recalling five-pound bags of its Gold Medal Unbleached Flour with a 'better if used by' date of April 20, 2020. The recall is being issued because of the potential presence of Salmonella which was discovered during sampling of the five-pound bag product.

This voluntary recall includes the following code date:

Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose 5LB Flour

Package UPC: 000-16000-19610-0

Recalled Better if Used by Date: 20APR2020KC

Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product affected by this recall. Consumers who have had to discard products covered by this recall may contact General Mills Consumer Relations at 1-800-230-8103 or visit www.generalmills.com/flour [health.us5.list-manage.com].

This recall only affects this one date code of Gold Medal Unbleached Flour five-pound bags. All other types of Gold Medal Flour are not affected by this recall.General Mills has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product.

Guidance from the Food and Drug Administration [health.us5.list-manage.com] (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to warn that consumers should refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour. Salmonella is killed by heat through baking, frying, sauteing or boiling products made with flour. All surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

RXBAR Recalls Certain Varieties of Bars Due to a Potential Undeclared Peanut Allergen

2019-01-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that RXBAR is recalling certain varieties of bars because they may contain undeclared peanuts. People who have peanut allergies run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consume this product.

Varieties being recalled are:

- RXBAR: Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Sea Salt, Coconut Chocolate, Coffee Chocolate, Mango Pineapple, Maple Sea Salt, Mint Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Pumpkin Spice

- RXBAR Kids: Apple Cinnamon Raisin, Berry Blast, Chocolate Chip

UPC codes for all recalled products are available online (see link below). No other RXBAR flavors or RXBAR products are affected by the recall.

RXBAR identified the potential for peanut in two varieties - Chocolate Sea Salt and Coconut Chocolate - in December and initiated a recall of those varieties. The recall is being expanded out of an abundance of caution after recent consumer reports regarding allergic reactions to additional varieties.

People who have purchased affected product and who have peanut allergies should discard the product and contact their local retailer or RXBAR for replacement or a full refund. Consumers can contact the RXBAR consumer service team at info@rxbar.com or 1-312- 624-8200.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for the Village on Chopmist Hill in Glocester

2019-01-04

The Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Village on Chopmist Hill in Glocester has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online (see the link below).

RIDOH Cautions about Potential Risks of Traveling Abroad for Medical Care

2019-01-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding Rhode Islanders to be mindful of the potential risks associated with traveling to another country for medical care.

Rhode Island hospitals have seen an increase in the number of Rhode Islanders who have traveled to other countries for medical procedures and returned with serious, antibiotic-resistant infections that require months to years of treatment. These infections have been associated with wounds that are painful, slow to heal, and often require draining. Such infections can also lead to permanent disfigurement.

Although people travel to many countries to receive medical care, several patients with recent complications had procedures done in the Dominican Republic. Common procedures associated with traveling for healthcare include breast augmentation, abdominoplasty (tummy tucks), liposuction, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty (nose jobs), oral surgery, and heart procedures.

Some people opt to have procedures done abroad because they are less expensive in other parts of the world, or because they prefer to have procedures done in their home countries.

"There are talented doctors who provide quality care in every country. However, various factors can sometimes make traveling for a procedure risky," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "When it comes to procedures that are done for the sake of appearance, instead of to treat health needs, it's often not worth the risk. But if someone does need to have a procedure done in another country, they should first have a conversation with a local healthcare provider to understand the issues that could arise."

The challenges associated with medical tourism could include:

- Varied standards of care in different countries;

- Healthcare providers abroad not having your complete medical records;

- Medications being counterfeit or of poorer quality;

- Risk of blood clots related to flying after surgery;

- Varied standards regarding the sterility of equipment used for medical procedures;

- Antibiotic resistance, which is higher in many other countries; and

- Communication issues. (Receiving care at a facility where you do not speak the language fluently increases the chances that misunderstandings will arise about your care.)

Although the RIDOH discourages Rhode Islanders from traveling to other countries for elective medical procedures, people who are still considering getting medical procedures abroad should:

- Consult a local healthcare provider at least four to six weeks before the trip to discuss general information for healthy travel and to learn about specific risks related to the procedure.

- Ask a local healthcare provider to check the qualifications of the providers who will be doing the procedure and the credentials of the facility where the procedure will be done.

- Have a written agreement with the healthcare facility defining what treatments, supplies, and care are covered by the costs of the trip.

- Determine ahead of time how you will communicate with your doctor and other people who are caring for you (if you are not a native speaker).

- Bring copies of your medical records that include the lab and other studies done related to the condition for which you are obtaining care and any allergies you may have.

- Bring copies of all your prescriptions and a list of all the medicines you take, including their brand names, generic names, manufacturers, and dosages.

- Arrange for follow-up care with your local healthcare provider before you leave.

- Before planning vacation activities, such as sunbathing, drinking alcohol, swimming, or taking long tours, find out if those activities are permitted after surgery.

- Get copies of all your medical records before you return home.

More information is available online from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - see link below.

Flu Activity Prompts Healthcare Worker Masking Requirement, Health Department Reminds Rhode Islanders of the Best Settings for Care

2019-01-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that the flu is "widespread" in Rhode Island, triggering the State's requirement for unvaccinated healthcare workers in hospitals and many other types of healthcare facilities to wear masks during direct patient contact.

"The masking requirement helps protect healthcare workers from catching the flu, and helps protect patients who are often dealing with other serious health issues," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it is not too late. Flu vaccine is the single best way to keep yourself and the people you love safe from the flu. Getting vaccinated today will provide you with months of protection."

Unvaccinated healthcare workers must wear masks when involved in direct patient contact at the types of facilities listed below. Examples of direct patient contact are entering a patient's room, serving food to patients, or participating in group patient activities. The requirement also applies to all licensed Emergency Medical Services (EMS) practitioners who have not been vaccinated against the flu.

RIDOH uses five tiers to categorize flu activity in Rhode Island: no activity, sporadic activity, local activity, regional activity, and widespread activity.

The healthcare facilities and organizations to which the masking regulation applies are:

- Adult day care programs

- Assisted living facilities

- CVS Minute Clinics

- Free-standing ambulatory care surgical centers

- Free-standing emergency care facilities

- Home care providers

- Home nursing care providers

- Hospice providers

- Hospitals

- Kidney treatment centers

- Nursing facilities

- Organized ambulatory care facilities

- Physician ambulatory surgery centers

RIDOH is also reminding Rhode Islanders about seeking medical care in the appropriate setting. Many types of illnesses and injuries usually do not require an emergency department visit, including less severe cases of the flu. Going to an emergency department for a less severe case of the flu will likely result in a long wait because emergency departments prioritize more serious injuries and illnesses. Less severe cases of the flu are often more quickly treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility.

However, some cases of the flu should be treated in an emergency department. Emergency warning signs that indicate that someone with the flu does need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider will be able to provide guidance about the next best step. (Most offices have physicians on-call after hours.)

Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. In addition to healthcare workers, vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, younger children, people over the age of 50, nursing home or group home residents, and people with chronic conditions (such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia, blood disorders, or weakened immune systems). Flu shots are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.

2018 News

Jennie-O Recalling Raw Ground Turkey Products

2018-12-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales is recalling 164,210 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be contaminated with Salmonella. The raw ground turkey items were produced on October 22, 2018 and October 23, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 3-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 and 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O TACO SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O ITALIAN SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 3-lb. packages of "Jennie-O Ground Turkey 85% LEAN | 15% FAT" with a "Use or freeze by" date of 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 2.5-lb. packages of "Jennie-O Ground Turkey 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with a "Use or freeze by" date of 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 3-lb. packages of "STATER BROS. 85% LEAN | 15% FAT ALL NATURAL Ground Turkey" with a "Use or freeze by" date of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. P-579" inside the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mark of inspection or on the side of the tray. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Federal and state health officials have been conducting traceback activities for a sample of Jennie-O brand ground turkey in an intact, unopened package from a case-patient's home. The patient tested positive for Salmonella and the samples from the case-patient and from the ground turkey are closely related genetically.

This investigation is part of a larger effort related to an illness cluster involving 216 case-patients in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Patients have reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different stores, handling raw turkey pet food and/or raw turkey, or working with live turkeys or living with someone who handled live turkeys.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their healthcare provider.

All consumers should safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume raw poultry product that has been cooked to a temperature of 165°F. Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:

  • Clean? Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate? Separate raw meat from other foods.
  • Cook? Cook to the right temperature.
  • Chill? Refrigerate food promptly.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Hormel Consumer Engagement, at (800) 621-3505. Media with questions regarding the recall can contact Media Relations at, media@hormel.com or (507) 434 6352.

Del Monte Fiesta Corn Recalled

2018-12-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Del Monte Foods is recalling 64,242 cases of Fiesta Corn Seasoned with Red & Green Peppers due to under-processing. This under-processing could result in contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens, which could lead to life-threatening illness.

The products subject to recall are 15.25-ounce (432g) cans with the UPC number 24000 02770 printed on the label. The product will also have one of the following "Best if Used By" dates stamped on the bottom of the can:

  • August 14, 2021
  • August 15, 2021
  • August 16, 2021
  • September 3, 2021
  • September 4, 2021
  • September 5, 2021
  • September 6, 2021
  • September 22, 2021
  • September 23, 2021

The product was distributed to multiple distributors and retail locations in 25 states, including Connecticut. No reports of illnesses have been associated with these products to date. No other production codes or products are affected by this recall.

If consumers have any product with the indicated UPC code and "Best if Used By" dates, they should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or exchange. Consumers with questions may contact the company by calling 1-800-779-7035.

RIDOH and RIDEM Lift Remaining Blue-Green Algae Advisories

2018-12-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are lifting the remaining blue-green algae advisories for bodies of water in Rhode Island. Recent visual surveys of locations under advisory found that there were no blooms of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Advisories are lifted for the following bodies of water:

  • Little Compton: Watson Reservoir
  • Middletown: Gardiner Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • Portsmouth: Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Mashapaug Pond, Roger Williams Park (Japanese Gardens, Roosevelt Lake)
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds

These improvements were expected due to seasonal cooling and declining daylight, and they signal a great reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that toxins are absent, or that a warm spell might not trigger a bloom during the winter/spring season. Seasonal monitoring for cyanobacteria in 2018 is finished, but the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae toxins can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.

People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Tris Pharma Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension, USP (NSAID) 50 mg per 1.25 mL, Due to Potential Higher Concentrations of Ibuprofen

2018-12-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health is alerting consumers that Tris Pharma, Inc. has voluntarily recalled three lots of Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension, USP (NSAID) 50 mg per 1.25 mL, to the retail level. The recalled lots of the product have been found to potentially have higher concentrations of ibuprofen.

Adverse effects that may be experienced are nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, or more rarely, diarrhea. Tinnitus, headache and gastrointestinal bleeding are also possible adverse effects. To date, Tris Pharma, Inc. has not received any reports of adverse events related to the lots of product that are the subject of this recall and there have been no reports of related illness in Rhode Island.

The product is used as a pain reliever/fever reducer and was packaged in 0.5 oz. bottles sold at Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, and Family Dollar Services, Inc. For a listing of the recalled lots and photos of the packaging, view the recall from Tris Pharma .

Wholesalers and retailers of the product should stop further distribution of the affected lots of Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension, USP (NSAID) 50 mg per 1.25 mL, which are being recalled.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Tris Customer Service at 732-940-0358 (Monday through Friday, 8:00am ET- 5:00pm PT) or via email at Customer Service Email . Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using this drug product.

Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of the product lots subject to this recall may be reported to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm

Regular Mail or Fax: Download form www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Achdut Recalls Multiple Brands of Tahini

2018-11-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the company Achdut is recalling its Tahini products of all packages and sizes produced from April 7, 2018 to May 21, 2018 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The recalled Tahini was distributed internationally in retail stores and through mail orders.

The tahini products are Tahini, Whole Tahini, Organic Tahini and Seasoned Tahini. Container sizes: 15oz, 16oz, 17.6oz, 635 oz (428g, 454g, 500g, 18Kg), with lot numbers 18-097 to 18-141 or with expiration dates April 7th to May 21st 2020. The brand names of the products are: Achdut, Baron's, S&F, Pepperwood, Soom and Achva.

Achdut is collaborating with health officials in connection with a positive finding of Salmonella in a US import sample of Achdut Tahini linked to a Salmonella outbreak that is currently being investigated by FDA and public health officials. Consumers who purchased this product should discard it, or return it to the place of purchase.

Update from FDA on Outbreak of E. coli Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce

2018-11-28

Based on new information, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have narrowed their warning to consumers. (Initial warning issued November 20.)

Consumers, retailers, and restaurants should not serve romaine lettuce from the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region and harvest date, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it. If you are unable to determine the source of your romaine lettuce, the product should be thrown away.

Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.

FDA recommends consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that they wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Mr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake

2018-11-28

The Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for tMr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake in Chepachet (Glocester) has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for The Village on Chopmist Hill

2018-11-26

The Village on Chopmist Hill, located at 40 Hemlock Drive in Glocester, has proactively issued precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Village on Chopmist Hill will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at The Village on Chopmist Hill will be evaluated by an RI licensed Certified Operator. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the corrective actions. The boil notice will not be lifted until corrective actions occur, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Kevin Kitson at 401-567-8888.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park) in Glocester

2018-11-23

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park) in Glocester has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown

2018-11-23

The Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Make Health A Part of Your Thanksgiving

2018-11-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) encourages Rhode Islanders to take steps to make health a part of their holiday this Thanksgiving.

Handling and preparing your food properly can help keep you and your family safe. Be sure to:

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food. This is especially important if you have been handling raw meat.
  • Thoroughly wash counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible. Washing turkey before cooking is not recommended.
  • Keep raw meat and their juices away from ready-to-eat food.
  • Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter.
  • Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check and place it in the thickest part of the food.
  • Cook the stuffing separately from the turkey to ensure it reaches the proper temperature.
  • Debone the turkey as soon as possible and divide it into smaller portions to cool quickly under refrigeration.

Try to eat as healthy as possible. To avoid extra calories:

  • Eat small portions.
  • Don't add extra butter or salt.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Don't fill up on snacks.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation, if you are going to be drinking.
  • Make sure that you have a designated driver, if you are going to be drinking and traveling.

The holidays can sometimes be stressful. To help avoid becoming too stressed, be sure to:

  • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
  • Ease your obligations, especially if you are piling activities and tasks onto an already full plate. Don't worry about disappointing the people in your life if you cannot be at a certain event or prepare a special dish.
  • Put down your phones, get away from the television, and do something interactive with family and friends. Good examples are playing a board game, playing cards, or taking a walk.
  • Focus conversation on the positive aspects of your life and what makes you thankful.

CDC Advises Consumers, Retailers, and Restaurants to Discard All Romaine Lettuce

2018-11-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting consumers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people to not eat any romaine lettuce, and is advising retailers and restaurants to not serve or sell any romaine lettuce. The CDC is putting out this alert as it investigates a multi-state E. coli outbreak. To date, 32 cases and 13 hospitalizations have been associated with the outbreak.

Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.

If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away. Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association

2018-11-16

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown has issued a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. The water system serves approximately 112 homes. The neighboring Central Beach Fire District is not affected by this boil water advisory.

All water used for consumption is required to be boiled vigorously, for at least one minute. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See link below.)

Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association collected a sample from Well #1 on 11/15/2018 that was positive for E. coli bacteria. This well has been turned off until it can be inspected and disinfected and bacteria samples come back absent. Well #2, which is absent of bacteria, will supply the water system. Residents should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The health advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) approves the boil advisory to be lifted.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Bob Pompei at 401-741-4042.

Pictsweet Company Recalls Steam'ables Asparagus Spears

2018-11-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Is advising consumers that the Pictsweet Company has recalled 1,872 cases of Pictsweet Farms 8-ounce Steam'ables Asparagus Spears because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recall affects only Pictsweet Farms 8-ounce Steam'ables Asparagus Spears identified by UPC code 0 70560 97799 9 with production codes beginning with the following six digits: 2138XD and a "BEST BY AUG 1, 2020."

No illnesses have been reported to date and no other Pictsweet Farms products are impacted by this recall.

The states in which the product was distributed are as follows: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The company initiated this recall after it was notified by the manufacturer that product suspected of containing Listeria monocytogenes was inadvertently shipped to The Pictsweet Company.

Consumers who have purchased Pictsweet Farms 8 ounce Steam'ables Asparagus Spears with the code listed above may contact our consumer affairs line at 1-800-527-0986 from 9am to 5pm Central Standard Time, Monday – Friday or return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Ground Turkey Products Recalled

2018-11-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales is recalling 91,388 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be associated with an illness outbreak of Salmonella.

The raw ground turkey products items were produced on September 11, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with "Use by" dates of 10/01/2018 and 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O TACO SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with a "Use by" date of 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 85% LEAN | 15% FAT" with a "Use by" date of 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O ITALIAN SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with a "Use by" date of 10/02/2018.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "P-190" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been conducting traceback activities for a sample of Jennie-O brand ground turkey in an intact, unopened package from a case-patient's home. The patient tested positive for Salmonella Reading and the sample from the ground turkey matches the outbreak strain.

CDC has been investigating an illness cluster involving 164 case-patients in 35 states. Patients have reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different stores, handling raw turkey pet food and/or raw turkey, or working with live turkeys or living with someone who handled live turkeys. There have been no illnesses in Rhode Island.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

All consumers should safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume raw poultry product that has been cooked to a temperature of 165°F. Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:

  • Clean? Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate? Separate raw meat from other foods.
  • Cook? Cook to the right temperature.
  • Chill? Refrigerate food promptly.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Chimera Inc.(Davis Mobile Home Park) in Glocester

2018-11-09

Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park), located at Everson Drive in Glocester, is issuing a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Chimera Inc. will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Chimera Inc. will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Anthony Salvatore at 401-783-4538.

Boil Water Advisory in Place for Mr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake in Glocester

2018-11-08

A boil water advisory is in place for Mr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake at 2400 Putnam Pike Chepachet (Glocester) because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply.

Customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See related links below.)

The water system collected a routine coliform bacteria sample on 11/5 that was positive for total coliform bacteria. One of four repeat samples collected on 11/6 was positive for E. coli bacteria. RIDOH will be inspecting the water system on Friday 11/9. The health advisory will remain in effect until RIDOH and the water system investigate the source of the bacteria, the water system completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted. (The three days of sampling doesn't start until after disinfection, flushing, and any other corrective action is completed.).

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water system and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Nikolas Zarokostas at 401-680-3132.

Update on Blue-Green Algae Advisories

2018-11-07

Health advisories that were put in place for several bodies of water earlier this year have been lifted, while others remain in place, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) announced today. Rhode Islanders had been advised to avoid contact and recreational activities on these bodies of water because of blue-green algae blooms. Blooms of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals.

The health advisories on the following bodies of water have been lifted:

  • Cranston: Blackamore Pond
  • East Providence: Central Pond, Omega Pond, Ten Mile River, Turner Reservoir
  • Greenville (Smithfield-Johnston): Slack's Reservoir
  • North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond
  • Providence: Roger Williams Park (Pleasure Lake, Willow Pond, Edgewood Pond)
  • Warwick: Little Pond

Health advisories remain in place for these waterbodies:

  • Little Compton: Watson Reservoir
  • Middletown: Gardiner Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • Portsmouth: Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Mashapaug Pond, Roger Williams Park (Japanese Gardens, Roosevelt)
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds
  • Cranston: Spectacle Pond

Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.

The public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water, or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.

Seasonal cooling and declining daylight are expected to cause blue-green algae to subside.

During the week of December 3rd, RIDEM plans to re-visit waterbodies under continued advisory. If blue-green algae have subsided, a status update will be issued at that time.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Duncan Hines Cake Mix Being Recalled Due to Potential Presence of Salmonella

2018-11-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that several varieties of Duncan Hines cake mix are being recalled because of a positive finding of Salmonella in a retail sample of Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix. The positive finding may be connected to a Salmonella outbreak that is currently being investigated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While it has not been definitively concluded that this product is linked to the outbreak and the investigation is still ongoing, Conagra (Duncan Hines' parent company) is recalling Duncan Hines Classic White, Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti, and Classic Yellow cake mix out of an abundance of caution.

Five occurrences of illnesses due to Salmonella are being researched by CDC and FDA as part of this investigation. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Several of the individuals reported consuming a cake mix at some point prior to becoming ill, and some may have also consumed these products raw and not baked. Consumers are reminded not to consume any raw batter. Cake mixes and batter can be made with ingredients such as eggs or flour which can carry risks of bacteria that are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw batter products, to follow baking instructions, and to never eat raw batter.

The products covered by this recall were distributed for retail sale throughout the U.S., including Rhode Island.

Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them and to return them to the store where originally purchased. Consumers with questions should call 1-888-299-7646 or visit www.duncanhines.com.

Rhode Island Leads the Nation for Childhood Flu Vaccination; Sees Decline Among Adults

2018-11-01

Rhode Island children had the highest flu vaccination coverage rate in the country during the 2017-2018 flu season, an increase of two percentage points from the previous season, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, Rhode Island also saw a decrease in the flu immunization rate for adults during this period.

"Flu vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself against the flu," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "The flu can have serious health consequences for anyone, including young, otherwise healthy adults. Getting our adult flu vaccination rate as high as our childhood flu vaccination rate is critical to preventing flu-related hospitalizations and deaths in Rhode Island. When someone gets a flu shot, they are not only protecting themselves. They are also protecting the people they love by preventing the spread of the flu at home. We all have a role to play in keeping those around us and our community healthy and safe."

During the 2017-2018 flu season, 76% of Rhode Island children were vaccinated against the flu, compared to the national average of 58%. Among adults, Rhode Island had a 44% flu vaccination rate, compared to the previous year, when 51% of adults were immunized against the flu. Younger adults (people from 18 to 49 years of age) had the lowest flu vaccination rate among all adults. The year-to-year decrease in Rhode Island mirrors a national trend. Between the 2016-2017 flu season and the 2017-2018 flu season, the national flu vaccination rate for adults decreased from 43% to 37%.

Last flu season was the most severe that Rhode Island has experienced in almost a decade. The flu sent 1,390 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 60 deaths, compared to 1,216 hospitalizations and 33 deaths the previous year. The CDC estimates that last flu season, 960,000 people were hospitalized and 79,000 people died because of the flu.

Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. Vaccination is particularly important for the elderly, young children, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or cancer).

Rhode Islanders can get vaccinated at a doctor's office, a school or community clinic, or a pharmacy (adults only). For a list of school clinics, visit health.ri.gov/flu or health.ri.gov/gripe (Spanish).

These data were gathered through the National Immunization Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The coverage rates produced by the National Immunization Survey and BRFSS are estimates. Because a random sample of telephone numbers is taken, these rates have a margin of error. Due to statistical uncertainty (i.e. sampling error) in the estimates, Rhode Island's true vaccination rates may be slightly higher or lower.

Boil Water Advisory in Place for Michaels Shell Station/Food Mart and Deli in Charlestown

2018-10-26

A boil water advisory is in place for Michael's Shell Station at 5680 Post Road in Charlestown because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply.

Customers should not drink any water from the faucets. The deli in the station is required to boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers and the deli can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See related links below.)

The station collected a routine coliform bacteria sample on 10/22 that was positive for E. coli bacteria. Two of four repeat samples collected on 10/24 were positive for total coliform bacteria. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will be inspecting the water system on Monday 10/29. The health advisory will remain in effect until RIDOH and the water system investigate the source of the bacteria, the water system completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted. (The three days of sampling doesn't start until after disinfection, flushing, and any other corrective action is completed.).

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Paul Fazio at 401-322-1889.

Jenny Craig Chicken Products Recalled Due to Possible Contamination

2018-10-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that SK Food Group is recalling 174,207 pounds of Jenny Craig chicken wrap products that contain vegetables that may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

The frozen, fully cooked chicken wrap items were produced on various dates from Oct. 15, 2017 through Oct. 15, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

4.5-oz. plastic packages containing "Jenny Craig Chicken Wrap with BBQ Sauce," with lot codes WO0096753S10, WO0097880S10, WO0098216S10, WO0098565S10, WO0098923S10, WO0100691S10, WO0100692S10, WO0101746S10, WO0101861S10, WO0102176S10, WO0102469S10, WO0102758S10, WO0103920S10, WO0104247S10, WO0104353S10, WO0104615S10, WO0104995S10, WO0106312, WO0106312S10, WO0106945S10, WO0107556S10, WO0108694S10, WO0108695S10, WO0096753S02, WO0097880S02, WO0098216S02, WO00982416S02, WO0098565S02, WO0098923S02, WO0100691S02, WO0100692S02 and WO0101746S02.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 45367" or "EST. 20552" stamped on the product centerfold. These items were shipped directly to consumers through catalog sales in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The problem was discovered on Oct. 14, 2018, when SK Food Group received notification that the vegetables used in the production of their chicken wrap products were being recalled by their vegetable supplier due to Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella concerns.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, people outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. People in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

Consumers and members of the media with questions regarding the recall can contact Steve Sposari, SK Food Group CEO, at (206) 957-6225.

Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products Being Recalled

2018-10-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Bakkavor Foods USA is recalling 795,261 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products that contain an onion ingredient that may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

The ready-to-eat meat and poultry items were produced from Sept. 27, 2017 through Oct. 15, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 16-oz. plastic-wrapped with paperboard sleeve packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand "BBQ STYLE CHICKEN ARTISAN PIZZA," with "Use By" dates from 01/07/19 through 04/11/19 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.
  • 8-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand "CHICKEN SAUSAGE, EGG WHITE and CHEESE BREAKFAST BURRITO," with "Use By" dates from 01/24/18 through 10/25/18 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.
  • 8-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand "BACON, EGG and CHEESE BURRITO," with "Use By" dates from 01/24/18 through 10/25/18 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.
  • 10-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing "TRADER JOE'S CARNITAS WITH SALSA VERDE Burrito," with "Use By" dates from 10/08/17 through 10/24/18 (inclusive) printed on the retail packaging.

The products subject to recall bear establishment numbers "EST. 19198," "P-19198," "EST. 46937" or "EST. 45335," inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The problem was discovered on Oct. 16, 2018, when Bakkavor Foods USA received notification that the onion used in the production of their ready-to-eat meat and poultry products was being recalled by their onion supplier due to Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella concerns. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, people outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact the Bakkavor Foods USA Corporate Recall Line at 1-855-312-7504. Members of the media with questions regarding the recall can contact Shawn Stevens, Bakkavor Foods USA's media representative, at (262) 271-1522.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Watson Reservoir in Little Compton and Gardiner Pond in Middletown

2018-10-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Watson Reservoir in Little Compton and Gardiner Pond in Middletown because of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

Health advisories remain in place for the following waterbodies:

  • Cranston: Spectacle Pond, Blackmore Pond
  • East Providence: Central Pond, Ten Mile River, and Omega Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds, Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Roosevelt, Willow, Edgewood, and Pleasure Lakes, Japanese Gardens (all in Roger Williams Park), Mashapaug Pond
  • Rumford: Turner Reservoir
  • Smithfield-Johnston: Slack Reservoir
  • Warwick: Little Pond

People should avoid recreation and not ingest untreated water or eat fish from these waters. Since pets can be affected by exposure to algal toxins, owners should not allow pets to drink from or swim in these waters. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with untreated water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with the affected waters who experience symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with waters with blue-green algae should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

While Watson Reservoir and Gardiner Pond are drinking water sources maintained by Newport Water, they are not currently being used to deliver drinking water to customers. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a blue-green algae bloom is present, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any surface water at any time is not recommended.

Sources maintained by Newport Water that are treated to become drinking water may come from nine different surface reservoirs or ponds: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Watson Reservoir and Gardiner Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience cyanobacteria blooms. Most blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

Newport Water needs all residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island and in Tiverton and Little Compton to help protect these valuable drinking water supplies. State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted.

Cyanobacteria blooms also occur in other waterbodies in the State. The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Boil Water Advisory in Place for Prudence Island (Portsmouth) Water District

2018-10-05

A boil water advisory is in place for the Prudence Island Water District because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply.

A list of streets that are affected is available at the link below. The entire water district is affected by the boil water advisory. Residents on private wells or on Prudence Park Water Coop are not affected. As many as 700 residents are impacted by this boil water advisory.

Customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See related links below.)

The water district collected repeat samples on Monday, October 1st. Three of these samples were positive for total coliform. The health advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted. (The three days of sampling doesn't start until after disinfection, flushing, and any other corrective action is completed.)

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact the water district at 401-285-6192 or info@pih2o.org.

Public Health, Healthcare Leaders Kick Off Annual Flu Vaccination Campaign

2018-10-05

Coming off the most severe flu season that Rhode Island has seen in almost a decade, public health and healthcare leaders launched the state's annual flu vaccination campaign today with reminders about how critical flu shots are for everyone six months of age and older.

"A flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself and the ones you love against the flu. When you get a flu shot you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting the people in your life by limiting the spread of the flu. This is especially important if you spend time with younger children or the elderly, who are more susceptible to the effects of the flu," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Even if you don't have health insurance or can't afford a flu shot, there are places in Rhode Island where you can get vaccinated for free. Earlier this week, public flu clinics opened at schools throughout the state and clinics will be happening in different cities and towns for the next two months. Flu shots are safe, effective, and easier to get than ever before."

Last year, the flu sent 1,390 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 60 deaths (compared to 1,216 hospitalizations and 33 deaths the previous year). Rhode Island saw more flu during the 2017-2018 flu season than during any flu season since the 2009-2010 season, when the state experienced the H1N1 flu pandemic.

Although doctors recommend flu shots for everyone six months of age and older, flu shots are especially important for certain people. They include the elderly, healthcare workers, younger children, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

The event at the West Warwick Senior and Community Center was attended by Ana Novais, Executive Director of RIDOH; Jeanne LaChance, President/CEO of Thundermist Health Center; James E. Fanale, MD, President and CEO of Care New England; Latha Sivaprasad, MD, Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital; Kimberly O'Connell, VP and Chief Strategy Officer for South County Health; and John Holiver, CEO of CharterCARE Health Partners.

"Thundermist Health Center is proud to partner with the Rhode Island Department of Health and West Warwick Health Equity Zone to kick off flu vaccinations in Rhode Island," said Jeanne LaChance, president/CEO of Thundermist Health Center. "We encourage everyone, especially those most at risk, to get vaccinated right away."

"We at Lifespan are proud to partner in this statewide effort to increase awareness, promote immunization and decrease the spread of influenza and other viral respiratory illnesses," said Latha Sivaprasad, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer of Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children's Hospital. "Our healthcare providers are on the front lines of identifying, treating and containing influenza. Through efforts like enhancing our visitor screenings this year, rapidly identifying new patients with respiratory viral symptoms, and providing immunizations to our staff members, our hospitals intend to suppress the spread of flu this season."

"We know that the best way to protect against the flu virus is for people to get vaccinated every year. But it is also important for people to see their primary care providers regularly rather than waiting and going to the ER when they think they might have the flu," said James E. Fanale, MD, president and CEO, Care New England. "By getting vaccinated, healthcare workers not only protect themselves, but also help protect the vulnerable patients they care for. We are proud that Care New England has exceeded the Healthy People 2020 goal of having 90 percent of our workforce vaccinated. Moreover, our goal is to reach and sustain staff vaccination rates greater than 95 percent system-wide. We know this is crucial to the health and well-being of our workforce and also of the communities we serve."

"As CEO of CharterCARE and board chairman of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, I can tell you that this issue is one that hospitals in Rhode Island take seriously. It is well known that vaccination is your best protection against the flu," said John Holiver, CEO of CharterCARE Health Partners. "Flu clinics – like the one today and the more than 30 that CharterCARE is conducting over the next couple months – are a great way to help protect vulnerable Rhode Islanders. I encourage everyone to seek out a clinic or visit a flu vaccine provider to make themselves, their family, and their co-workers safer during this flu season."

Approximately 480,000 Rhode Islanders were vaccinated last year. Rhode Island had the highest flu vaccination rate among children in the nation last year (76%). However, RIDOH is working to increase Rhode Island's vaccination rate for the 2018-2019 flu season. A list of evening flu clinics that are located at schools and are open to the entire community is available at http://www.health.ri.gov/flu. Flu shots are also available at other community clinics, doctors' offices, and pharmacies.

After getting a flu shot some people experience a slight ache or a low-grade fever. This means that the body is developing an immune response to the flu virus. These mild side effects are much less significant than the actual flu, which causes most people to stay in bed for a week. You absolutely cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, Rhode Islanders can take other steps to stay healthy and safe this flu season.

  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

Thundermist Health Center is the backbone agency of the West Warwick Health Equity Zone (HEZ). HEZs are community-led collaboratives in nine regions throughout the state that are working to address the underlying factors in communities that have the greatest impact on health outcomes. These underlying, community-level factors include things like access to fresh fruits and vegetables, transportation, quality education, job opportunities, social supports, and healthy housing. Each of Rhode Island's nine HEZs have a backbone agency. More information about the HEZs is available at http://www.health.ri.gov/hez

People with additional questions can call 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Castle Rock Condominiums in Charlestown

2018-10-01

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Castle Rock Condominiums in Charlestown has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Castle Rock Condominiums in Charlestown

2018-09-24

The Castle Rock Condominiums, located at 1C West Castle Way in Charlestown, is issuing a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Castle Rock Condominiums will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Castle Rock Condominiums will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Karen Andersen at 401-203-0300.

RIDOH and RIDEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Little Pond; Lift Restrictions for Georgiaville Pond

2018-09-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are advising the public to avoid contact with Little Pond in Warwick, while lifting an advisory for Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield. The advisories relate to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

At Georgiaville Pond, recent consecutive surveys and samples confirmed absence of blue-green algae and cyanotoxin, allowing the advisory to be lifted. Health advisories remain in place for the following waterbodies:

  • Cranston: Spectacle Pond
  • Cranston: Blackamore Pond
  • East Providence: Central Pond
  • East Providence: Ten Mile River
  • East Providence: Omega Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds
  • Portsmouth: Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Mashapaug Pond
  • Providence: Roosevelt, Willow, Edgewood, and Pleasure Lakes, Japanese Gardens (all in Roger Williams Park)
  • Rumford: Turner Reservoir
  • Smithfield-Johnston: Slack Reservoir

Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with these ponds, who experience symptoms, should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with water that is under an advisory should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact RIDEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH Health Equity Summit Focuses on Building Healthy and Resilient Communities

2018-09-20

More than 700 community members, legislators, municipal leaders, members of the business community, and representatives from fields including public health, healthcare, law enforcement, and education gathered today at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s third annual Health Equity Summit to discuss how to build healthier, more resilient communities, and a healthier, more resilient Rhode Island.

In more than 60 different workshops, attendees examined how certain health issues affect specific communities differently, and how to partner with communities to address those health issues in ways that improve health and economic opportunities for all Rhode Islanders. The workshops at the Summit included sessions on healthy aging, transgender health, healthy housing, climate change, mental health, infant mortality, and gentrification, among dozens of other topics. The theme of the Summit was Building Healthy and Resilient Communities.

"Rhode Island is a place that embraces diversity, tolerance, and equal opportunity for everyone," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "An important part of ensuring that all Rhode Islanders have an equal opportunity to thrive is to address the underlying issues that determine whether people and communities are healthy, such as job opportunities, housing, and education. I applaud everyone at today's Health Equity Summit for rolling up their sleeves and contributing their time and talent, and for helping build a healthier Rhode Island."

"No matter what you look like, what you sound like, where you live, or who you love, everyone deserves the chance to be as healthy as possible and to live in as healthy a community as possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "To make this a reality, we need to work together to build healthy and resilient communities that bounce forward after adverse events, such as those related to climate change, and that support healthy living for everyone. Today's Health Equity Summit was a critical step in this process, and in coming together to put action to our talk about building a healthier, more resilient Rhode Island."

Different health outcomes for different communities, also referred to as health disparities, exist throughout Rhode Island. For example:

  • Teenagers living in rural areas of Rhode Island report some of the highest rates of drug, alcohol, and cigarette use in the state;
  • Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are diagnosed with depression at double the rate of Rhode Islanders who do not identify this way (44% have ever had a diagnosis of depression, versus 22%);
  • The infant mortality rate for African-American Rhode Islanders is almost double the state average (11.2 per 1,000 live births, as opposed to 6.6); and
  • More than half of Native American children in Rhode Island (54%) live in poverty.

Differences in health outcomes like these are the result of different community-level factors, such as exposure to marketing of unhealthy products, access to transportation and health services and care, education, job opportunities, social supports, housing, and discrimination. Factors such as these are described as the socioeconomic and environmental determinants of health.

Because health outcomes are overwhelmingly determined by these community-level factors, many of RIDOH's public health interventions are now focused in communities, led by our communities. The most prominent example is Rhode Island's Health Equity Zones (HEZs). HEZs are community-led Collaboratives in nine regions throughout the state that are working to address these underlying, community-level determinants of health. For example, the Washington County HEZ has worked to address mental health concerns among residents by providing evidence-based, mental health first aid and suicide prevention training to more than 1,000 police officers, clergy members, teachers, parents, and staff of youth-serving organizations. As a result of the HEZ infrastructure pulling the community together the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Association awarded the Washington County HEZ, Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds a $2 million grant to reach zero suicides. A second example is the work of the Pawtucket and Central Falls HEZ to revitalize a dilapidated city building in Pawtucket to create affordable housing units, a job training program for youth, and a market and kitchen space with locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy prepared foods, called Harvest Kitchen.

"It's amazing to see so many partners working together to improve opportunities for Rhode Island families and neighborhoods," said Brent Kermen, Principal of William D'Abate Elementary School and a member of the Olneyville HEZ Collaborative who participated in the Summit as a panelist. "I see the impact of this work on a daily basis. The HEZ initiative is providing community members in my neighborhood with a sense that others care about them and believe in them – making them want to give more and more to their community. That alone makes a tremendous difference."

All nine of the HEZs were represented at the Summit.

The keynote speaker at the Summit was Edward P. Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, a former Minnesota Health Commissioner. In addition to the breakout sessions and speaking portions, the Health Equity Summit featured a poster session, resource tables, and performances by the Inner City Rhythm Drummers, AS220 Youth ZuKrewe, and the musician Kim Trusty.

In addition to the wide range of communities and fields represented at the Summit, representatives from several State agencies participated in dialogues about how to improve health outcomes for the Rhode Islanders they serve. Those agencies included the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Affairs; the Rhode Island Department of Corrections; the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families; the Rhode Island Department of Education; the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals; the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner; and Health Source RI.

The Health Equity Summit was also an opportunity for Dr. Alexander-Scott to launch the 2019 President's Challenge for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). As Rhode Island's Director of Health, Dr. Alexander-Scott's yearlong term as the President of ASTHO, which is the national organization for state health directors, begins this month, giving the opportunity to elevate Rhode Island's leadership in health equity under Governor Raimondo. The theme of the President's Challenge mirrors the theme of the Health Equity Summit: Building Healthy and Resilient Communities. ASTHO will be working over the coming year with state and territorial health departments to help them implement initiatives that, similar to the HEZ initiative in Rhode Island, are focused on addressing the factors in people's communities that most significantly impact health outcomes. The challenge is aligned with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the U.S. Surgeon General's focus on community health and economic prosperity.

Ground Beef Products Recalled

2018-09-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling 132,606 pounds of ground beef products in connection with an E. coli investigation.

The products subject to the recall bear establishment number "EST. 86R" inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide. RIDOH is working to ensure that these products are removed from shelves in Rhode Island.

On Aug. 16, 2018, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) was notified of an investigation of E. coli O26 illnesses. It was determined that raw ground beef was the probable source of the reported illnesses. The epidemiological investigation identified 17 illnesses and one death with illness onset dates ranging from July 5 to July 25, 2018.

Illnesses associated with this kind of E. coli can result in diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by testing of a stool sample. Rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment. Most people recover within a week, but rarely, some develop a more severe infection. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, can also occur. HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in children younger than 5 years old, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. It is marked by easy bruising and decreased urine output. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Media with questions regarding the recall can contact Michael Martin, Cargill Meat Solutions communications director, at (316) 291-2126 or at michael_martin@cargill.com. Consumers with questions regarding the recall can call 1-844-419-1574.

RIDOH Accepting Laboratory Applications for Sampling and Testing Medical Marijuana

2018-09-17

As part of work to ensure patient safety, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is now accepting applications for analytical laboratories in Rhode Island that want to be licensed to sample and test medical marijuana. Application instructions and the application form are available at http://www.health.ri.gov/applications/MMTestingLabPreliminary.pdf

Licensed laboratories will collect, sample, and analyze medical marijuana products cultivated and/or manufactured by registered compassion centers and licensed cultivators. They will test to verify the THC content of products and check for contaminants such as metals, pesticides, bacteria, other microbiological content, and solvents used in the preparation of medical marijuana products.

By licensing independent laboratories to do this work, RIDOH will be able to ensure that the analysis of medical marijuana is conducted using validated, standardized analytical methods with appropriate instrumentation. These steps are critical to establishing the quality assurance standards needed for medical marijuana so that RIDOH can continue to ensure its safety and appropriate labeling in Rhode Island.

The standards for licensing these analytical laboratories were laid out in regulations promulgated earlier this year.

Final Boil Water Advisory Lifted in Narragansett and South Kingstown

2018-09-10

All of the boil water advisories that had been in place since August 31st for customers of five water systems in Narragansett and South Kingstown have been lifted. The final advisory, on the Narragansett – North End water system, was lifted today. Advisories on the Suez, Narragansett – Point Judith, South Kingstown – South Shore, and South Kingstown – Middlebridge water systems were lifted on September 8th.

All five systems had samples on three consecutive days that were absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli bacteria. A sample taken early in the day on September 7th in the Narragansett – North End system indicated the presence of coliform bacteria. However, the system did flushing and treatment that afternoon and drew three additional samples that day. That second set of samples on September 7th, as well as samples drawn on September 8th and September 9th, were absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli bacteria. The test results by day are available at http://www.health.ri.gov. The systems will continue to be tested regularly for E. coli and other contaminants.

"Ensuring the safety and quality of Rhode Island's drinking water is one of the core functions of the Rhode Island Department of Health," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Our team worked almost around the clock since these advisories went into place to get safe water coming out of people's taps again as soon as possible, to educate residents and business owners on the boil water guidance, and to monitor the region for any drinking water-related illnesses. However, this could not have happened without the partnership of dozens of leaders at the state and local levels. We will continue to build on these collaborations to ensure that people continue to have safe water to drink, safe and healthy food to eat, clean air to breathe, and healthy communities to call home, regardless of their ZIP code."

Although customers of these five water systems no longer need to boil their water there are certain steps that people should take before using their water again to make sure that it is safe. People should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and run all faucets and taps for 10 minutes. Additional guidance, including guidance for schools, food establishments, and healthcare facilities, is available at www.health.ri.gov.

Although several potential sources were evaluated, the source of the contamination has yet to be identified. Indications are that this was an isolated instance of contamination (as opposed to contamination from an on-going issue).

If customers have questions, who should they contact?

Customers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems.

  • Suez Water: 401-789-0271 (primary) or 401-316-2201 (secondary)
  • Narragansett-Point Judith: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • Narragansett-North End: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • South Kingstown-South Shore: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)

What has RIDOH been doing in response to boil water advisory?

  • Worked closely with the water systems to find and eliminate any potential sources of contamination.
  • Provided guidance and updates to the press and public in the form of press releases, social media posts, maps, streets lists, and Frequently Asked Questions documents.
  • Issued clinical guidance on symptoms, reporting procedures, and status updates to healthcare providers throughout Rhode Island.
  • Coordinated closely with water system managers, local town administrators, state legislators, and other key stakeholders.
  • Provided technical assistance to the drinking water systems for drinking water treatment.
  • Sent guidance and making calls to each hospital, nursing home, assisted living community, and dialysis center in the affected area to ensure that they understand the boil water guidance, and to ensure they are able to provide safe water to residents and patients. RIDOH staff also visited all the nursing homes and assisted living sites in the area.
  • Communicated with restaurants, grocery stores, and food establishments by email, fax, phone, and direct visits to ensure that they understand the boil water guidance.
  • Communicated with school leadership in Narragansett and South Kingstown about food service, water procurement, and hand washing.
  • Partnered with the Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs to provide specific information to seniors about how to get bottled, should any senior be unable to. This outreach was done through churches, non-profits organizations, and other community groups.
  • Investigated all reports of gastrointestinal illness in Narragansett or South Kingstown.

For more information, see http://www.health.ri.gov or call 401-222-5960.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Spectacle Pond in Cranston

2018-09-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Spectacle Pond in Cranston due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Spectacle Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Four of Five Water Systems

2018-09-08

The boil water advisory that has been in place since August 31st for customers of the Suez Water, Narragansett – Point Judith, South Kingstown – South Shore, and South Kingstown – Middlebridge water systems has been lifted. The boil water advisory is still in place for customers of the Narragansett – North End water system.

Updated test results and resources are available at http://www.health.ri.gov

Samples taken on September 5th, 6th, and 7th from the Suez Water, Narragansett – Point Judith, South Kingstown – South Shore, and South Kingstown – Middlebridge systems were absent bacteria. Because the Narragansett – North End water system samples have not been bacteria free for three days, the advisory for that system is still in place. Samples collected on September 5th and September 7th contained coliform bacteria. Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) staff is continuing to work with Narragansett – North End staff to inspect the system and evaluate possible sources of contamination.

Information for Narragansett – North End water system customers

  • A map and street list are online to help residents determine whether they live in the area served by the Narragansett – North End water system.
  • Customers continue to boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water.

Information for customers of the Suez Water, Narragansett – Point Judith, South Kingstown – South Shore, and South Kingstown – Middlebridge systems

  • Customers of these systems no longer need to boil their water. However, there are certain steps that people should take before using their water again to make sure that it is safe. People should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and run any faucets or taps that were not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Additional guidance, including guidance for schools and healthcare facilities, is available at http://www.health.ri.gov.
  • These systems will continue to be tested regularly for E.Coli and other contaminants.

RIDOH is continuing to investigate any reports of gastrointestinal illness (which is the illnesses associated with E. Coli infection). While an isolated cluster of diarrheal illnesses was identified, the thorough investigation that RIDOH has been conducting, does not suggest that it was water-related.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should be contacted with questions?

Consumers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems.

  • Suez Water: 401-789-0271 (primary) or 401-316-2201 (secondary)
  • Narragansett-Point Judith: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • Narragansett-North End: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • South Kingstown-South Shore: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)

How can the elderly, people with disabilities, or others who are unable to leave their homes get bottled water?

Narragansett residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-1091.

Where can people fill bottles of water?

The location where Narragansett and South Kingstown residents who are affected by the current boil water advisory can get bottles filled with clean water is West Kingston Park, located at 3840 Kingstown Road, in West Kingston. Residents from both Narragansett and South Kingstown are welcome at this filling station from 8:30 am to 5 p.m.

What are the symptoms of E. Coli, and when should a healthcare provider be contacted?

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on one of these five water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

For further guidance and links to RIDOH's previous press releases, visit http://www.health.ri.gov.

Updated Water Sample Results Posted Online

2018-09-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) homepage, http://www.health.ri.gov, now includes water sample test results for the boil water advisory, which is still in place in parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown.

This information will be updated regularly to allow residents and business owners in the affected area to easily access the test results, the map and addresses included in the affected area, as well as RIDOH's standard guidance about boil water advisories. Guidance about what people and businesses should do after the advisories are lifted will also be posted on this webpage once the water has been deemed absent of bacteria for three days in a row.

Since August 31st, a boil water advisory has been in place for customers of the Suez Water, Narragansett-Point Judith, Narragansett-North End, South Kingstown-South Shore, and South Kingstown-Middlebridge water systems. The advisory was put in place because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. E. coli is an indicator of fecal contamination. There is currently no change to the advisory. All customers of these systems should continue to boil water until the advisory is lifted.

Test results showing the absence of bacteria in the water are required every day for three days in a row before RIDOH can lift the advisory. Because the systems are all being sampled separately, a boil water advisory on one system can be lifted before the others. However, because the Suez Water system impacts all other system, a change in the results from Suez would impact the other water systems. The water systems began collecting samples on September 5th. It takes between 24 and 48 hours for samples to be analyzed.

Results for samples collected on September 5th:

  • Suez Water - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli
  • South Kingstown-South Shore - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli
  • Narragansett-Point Judith - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli
  • Narragansett-North End - absent E. Coli, but coliform bacteria was present

Results for samples collected on September 6th:

  • Suez Water - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli
  • South Kingstown-South Shore - results still pending
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli
  • Narragansett-Point Judith - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli
  • Narragansett-North End - absent coliform bacteria, including E. coli

Because of the coliform bacteria finding in the Narragansett-North End system that was taken on September 5th, that system's boil water advisory will be in place for at least one additional day. (The boil water advisory for the Narragansett-North End system at this point would continue through Sunday evening, if all subsequent test results are absent of bacteria for three days in a row).

The water systems have submitted a treatment plan to RIDOH and are treating the water, which includes adjusting the chlorine levels in the water. Larger drinking water systems use chlorine, even when there is no contamination issue, because chlorine disinfects and kill germs. The levels of chlorine in the five systems are being increased to further disinfect the pipes. Using or drinking water with small amounts of chlorine does not cause harmful health effects and provides protection against waterborne illnesses. Federal limits are set on how much chlorine can be added to water. The water systems in South County are staying well below this level.

Although several potential sources have been evaluated, the source of the contamination has yet to be identified. Indications are that this was an isolated instance of contamination (as opposed to contamination from an on-going issue). Regardless, members of the public should strictly adhere to the boil water advisory until it is lifted.

What has RIDOH been doing in response to boil water advisory?

  • Working closely with the water systems to find and eliminate any potential sources of contamination.
  • Providing guidance and updates to the press and public in the form of press releases, social media posts, maps, streets lists, and Frequently Asked Questions documents.
  • Issuing clinical guidance on symptoms, reporting procedures, and status updates to healthcare providers throughout Rhode Island.
  • Coordinating closely with water system managers, local town administrators, state legislators, and other key stakeholders.
  • Providing technical assistance to the drinking water systems for drinking water treatment.
  • Sending guidance and making calls to each hospital, nursing home, assisted living community, and dialysis center in the affected area to ensure that they understand the boil water guidance, and to ensure they are able to provide safe water to residents and patients. RIDOH staff also visited all the nursing homes and assisted living sites in the area.
  • Communicating with restaurants, grocery stores, and food establishments by email, fax, phone, and direct visits to ensure that they understand the boil water guidance.
  • Communicating with school leadership in Narragansett and South Kingstown about food service, water procurement, and hand washing.
  • Partnering with the Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs to provide specific information to seniors about how to get bottled, should any senior be unable to. This outreach was done through churches, non-profits organizations, and other community groups.
  • Continuing to investigate any reports of gastrointestinal illness in Narragansett or South Kingstown.

Frequently asked questions

What should customers of the affected water systems do?

The five systems' customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online. Separate guidance is available for restaurants and other food establishments. Food establishments with additional questions can call the RIDOH Center for Food Protection at 401-222-2749 or 401-222-2750.

Who should be contacted with questions?

Consumers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems.

  • Suez Water: 401-789-0271 (primary) or 401-316-2201 (secondary)
  • Narragansett-Point Judith: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • Narragansett-North End: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • South Kingstown-South Shore: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)

How can the elderly, people with disabilities, or others who are unable to leave their homes get bottled water?

Narragansett residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-1091. South Kingstown residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-9331. Individuals who live in the affected areas of Narragansett and South Kingstown are also encouraged to check on their neighbors and friends who may need assistance.

Where can people fill bottles of water?

The location where Narragansett and South Kingstown residents who are affected by the current boil water advisory can get bottles filled with clean water is West Kingston Park, located at 3840 Kingstown Road, in West Kingston. Residents from both Narragansett and South Kingstown are welcome at this filling station from 8:30 am to 5 p.m.

What are the symptoms of E. Coli, and when should a healthcare provider be contacted?

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on one of these five water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

For further guidance and links RIDOH's previous press releases, visit http://www.health.ri.gov.

Resampling Underway in Water Systems Under Boil Water Advisory

2018-09-06

The five water systems serving parts of South Kingstown and Narraganset that are under a boil water advisory began resampling yesterday to determine whether the water from those systems is again safe to drink. Test results showing the absence of bacteria in the water are required every day for three days in a row before the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) can lift the advisory. Yesterday's test results will not be available until later this afternoon.

Since August 31st, a boil water advisory has been in place for customers of the Suez Water, Narragansett-Point Judith, Narragansett-North End, South Kingstown-South Shore, and South Kingstown-Middlebridge water systems. The advisory was put in place because E. Coli bacteria was found in the water supply. E. Coli is an indicator of fecal contamination. There is currently no change to the advisory. All customers of these systems should continue to boil water until the advisory is lifted.

"Staff at Rhode Island Department of Health, and throughout State government, have remained vigilant throughout this process because E. Coli can cause serious illness," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "We have been working since the boil water advisory began to ensure that restaurants, schools, healthcare and long-term care facilities, other food service providers, and town officials all have the guidance they need to respond to the advisory. Our Center for Drinking Water and Center for Food Protection staff were out in the communities throughout the holiday weekend conducting inspections and providing on-site assistance, as needed, and continue to be available to answer questions as they arise."

The water systems have submitted a treatment plan to RIDOH and have begun treating the water, which includes adjusting the chlorine levels in the water. Larger drinking water systems use chlorine, even when there is no contamination issue, because chlorine disinfects and kill germs. The levels of chlorine in the five systems are being increased to further disinfect the pipes. Using or drinking water with small amounts of chlorine does not cause harmful health effects and provides protection against waterborne illnesses. Federal limits are set on how much chlorine can be added to water. The water systems in South County are staying well below this level.

Using computer modeling, field inspection and sampling, the water systems and RIDOH are continuing to evaluate different potential sources of the issue. Common causes of E. coli contamination include broken pipes and backflow into the water system. The water systems will continue to be tested regularly for E. Coli and other contaminants.

What should customers of the affected water systems do?

The five systems' customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online [link below]. Separate guidance [link below] is available for restaurants and other food establishments. Food establishments with additional questions can call the RIDOH Center for Food Protection at 401-222-2749 or 401-222-2750.

Who should be contacted with questions?

Consumers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems.

  • Suez Water: 401-789-0271 (primary) or 401-316-2201 (secondary)
  • Narragansett-Point Judith: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • Narragansett-North End: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • South Kingstown-South Shore: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)

How can the elderly, people with disabilities, or others who are unable to leave their homes to get bottled water?

Narragansett residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-1091. South Kingstown residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-9331. Individuals who live in the affected areas of Narragansett and South Kingstown are also encouraged to check on their neighbors and friends who may need assistance.

Where can people fill bottles of water?

The location where Narragansett and South Kingstown residents who are affected by the current boil water advisory can get bottles filled with clean water is West Kingston Park, located at 3840 Kingstown Road, in West Kingston. Residents from both Narragansett and South Kingstown are welcome at this filling station from 8:30 am to 5 p.m.

What are the symptoms of E. Coli, and when should a healthcare provider be contacted?

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on one of these five water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

If you have already contacted your water system and still have questions, visit http://www.health.ri.gov

Location of Bottle Filling Station Moved in Area Impacted by Boil Water Advisory

2018-09-04

The location where Narragansett and South Kingstown residents who are affected by the current boil water advisory can get bottles filled with clean water has been moved from the Kingston Fire Station on Bills Road to West Kingston Park, located at 3840 Kingstown Road, in West Kingston. Residents from both Narragansett and South Kingstown are welcome at this filling station from 8:30 am to 5 p.m. This location change is being made so that water will be available at a more accessible site.

Assistance is available for the elderly, people with disabilities, or others who are unable to leave their homes to get bottled water. Narragansett residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-1091. South Kingstown residents in need of assistance for these reasons should contact 401-789-9331. Individuals who live in the affected areas of Narragansett and South Kingstown are also encouraged to check on their neighbors and friends who may need assistance.

Since August 31st, a boil water advisory has been in place for customers of five public water systems serving parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown (Suez Water; Narragansett-Point Judith; Narragansett-North End; South Kingstown-South Shore; South Kingstown-Middlebridge). The advisory was put in place because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. There is no change to the advisory, and all customers should continue to boil water until the advisory is lifted. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has not seen an unusual amount of gastrointestinal illness ( the type of illness associated with E. coli) in Narragansett and South Kingstown.

In addition to monitoring for illness, RIDOH and other state agencies have taken a number of steps to support residents and business owners. These have included working with school leadership to ensure the availability of water for students, visiting restaurants and other food establishments to ensure that food service managers have the most up-to-date information, and coordinating with nursing homes and other community contacts for the elderly.

The water systems are conducting an investigation to find the source of the contamination and will take corrective action to fix the problem once it is identified. The systems originally expected to have the investigation and corrective actions completed by Wednesday. This process is proceeding on schedule, and RIDOH anticipates that resampling will begin on Wednesday. Test results showing the absence of bacteria in the water are required every day for three days in a row before RIDOH can lift the advisory.

What should consumers do?

The five systems' customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online. Separate guidance is available for restaurants and other food establishments. Food establishments with additional questions can call the RIDOH Office of Food Protection at 401-222-2749 or 401-222-2750.

Who should be contacted with questions?

Consumers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems.

  • Suez Water: 401-789-0271 (primary) or 401-316-2201 (secondary)
  • Narragansett-Point Judith: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • Narragansett-North End: Call Town Hall at 401-782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • South Kingstown-South Shore: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)

Updated Information for Boil Water Advisory in Place for Five Public Water Systems Serving Parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown

2018-09-02

Since Aug. 31, a boil water advisory has remained in place for customers of five public water systems serving parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. There is no change to the advisory, and all customers should continue to boil water until the advisory is lifted.

The water systems are conducting an investigation to find the source of the contamination and will take corrective action to fix the problem once identified. At this time, the systems expect to have the investigation and corrective actions completed by Wednesday. If that is accomplished effectively, the necessary follow-up water testing may begin. Test results showing the absence of bacteria in the water are required every day for three days in a row before RIDOH can lift the advisory. Water system administrators and municipalities are continuing to alert customers about this advisory and will alert customers when it is lifted.

Consumers with questions should continue to call the contact numbers designated for their water systems. Please note that as of Sept. 2, contact information for the affected water systems and communities has been updated as follows:

  • Suez Water: 401-789-0271 (primary) or 401-316-2201 (secondary)
  • Narragansett-Point Judith: Call Town Hall at (401) 782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, please call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • Narragansett-North End: Call Town Hall at (401) 782-0639 during open business hours, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours and holidays, please call 401-789-1091 for the Narragansett Police dispatch line.
  • South Kingstown-South Shore: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)
  • South Kingstown-Middlebridge: 401-789-9331 (South Kingstown Town Hall)

The five systems' customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online at health.ri.gov/publications/instructions/HouseholdBoilWaterGuidance.pdf. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has also provided guidance to restaurants and other food establishments (link: health.ri.gov/publications/instructions/FoodServiceBoilWater.pdf) and will conduct outreach visits to ensure that the establishments in the area have received copies of the guidance, answer questions, and support them. RIDOH is also working with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and will hold a call with the superintendents on Monday morning to ensure the communities' schools receive proper guidance.

Additionally, customers served by the five water districts should be aware of the following updates in their communities:

South Kingstown:

  • The Kingston Fire Station, which is not affected by the boil water advisory, invites customers from the affected communities to fill water bottles at the station as needed. To do so, please bring clean water bottles to the Kingston Fire District station, 35 Bills Rd, Kingston, RI 02881 (map) between the business hours of 8:30 am to 5 p.m.
  • The Town of South Kingstown is being assisted by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) to provide bottled water to schools on Monday (approx. 10 pallets), as well as to Public Housing Authority residents (beginning Tuesday), and the Senior Center (Tuesday).
  • Home-bound or other residents in need of assistance in securing water should contact South Kingstown Town Hall at 401-789-9331.

Narragansett:

  • A 24-hour hotline has been established at 401-789-1091. The elderly, people with disabilities, or others who are unable to leave their homes may call to request water delivered at no charge by officers of the Town of Narragansett Police Department.
  • The Town of Narragansett has sent automated messages to constituents enrolled in the Code RED notification system, as well as to other vulnerable populations to alert them about the boil water advisory in effect.
  • The Town of Narragansett is being assisted by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) to provide bottled water to schools on Monday (approx. 10 pallets).

For all customers affected by the boil water advisory:

Posted online are a map of the affected areas and a list of the streets in Narragansett and South Kingstown that are affected. (For more complete information about the areas covered, customers should contact the individual water systems.) Additionally, people can check their water bills to determine what system provides their water. Approximately 38,000 residents are impacted by this boil water advisory.

The E. coli finding was made during routine sampling by Suez Water, which sells water to the other systems. There have been no illnesses associated with these systems.

E. coli is bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on one of these five water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

The University of Rhode Island's main campus is not on any of these systems. However, the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus is impacted by this advisory. Ninigret Park in Charlestown, which is hosting the Rhythm & Roots music festival this weekend, in not impacted.

If you have already contacted your water system and still have questions, visit http://www.health.ri.gov.

Boil Water Advisory in Place for Five Public Water Systems Serving Parts of Narragansett and Parts of South Kingstown

2018-08-31

A boil water advisory is in place for the customers of five public water systems serving parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. The affected water systems are:

  • Suez Water (customers with questions should contact Chris Jacobs at 401-316-2201)
  • Narragansett – Point Judith (customers with questions should contact the Police Department at 401-789-1091 or John Soetbeer at 401-265-3515)
  • Narragansett – North End (customers with questions should contact the Police Department at 401-789-1091 or John Soetbeer at 401-265-3515)
  • South Kingstown – South Shore (customers with questions should contact the Police Department at 401-783-3321)
  • South Kingstown – Middlebridge (customers with questions should contact the Police Department at 401-783-3321)

Posted online are a map of the affected areas and a list of the streets in Narragansett and South Kingstown that are affected. (See related links below.) (For more complete information about the areas covered, customers should contact the individual water systems.) Additionally, people can check their water bills to determine what system provides their water. Approximately 38,000 residents are impacted by this boil water advisory.

The five systems' customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See related links below.) The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is communicating guidance to restaurants and other food establishments in the area. (Guidance for food establishments is also available online at http://health.ri.gov/publications/instructions/FoodServiceBoilWater.pdf)

The E. coli finding was made during routine sampling by Suez Water, which sells water to the other systems. There have been no illnesses associated with these systems.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed, three consecutive days of satisfactory bacteria results are obtained, and RIDOH approves the lifting of the advisory. Water systems administrators are currently alerting customers about this advisory and will alert customers when it is lifted.

E. coli is bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on one of these five water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

The University of Rhode Island's main campus is not on any of these systems. However, the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus is impacted by this advisory. Ninigret Park in Charlestown, which is hosting the Rhythm & Roots music festival this weekend, is not impacted.

If you have already contacted your water system and still have questions, visit http://www.health.ri.gov.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Frontier Camper Park (in Ashaway)

2018-08-30

The Frontier Camper Park, located at 180A Maxson Hill Road in Ashaway, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Frontier Camper Park will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Frontier Camper Park will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Dorothy Thompson at 401-377-4510.

Rhode Island a National Leader in Immunizations for Adolescents

2018-08-24

Immunization rates for teenagers in Rhode Island are among the highest in the country, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Immunization prevents disease," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Timely immunization is important for people of all ages – from infancy to adulthood – and helps build safe, healthy, and strong communities. Rhode Island's consistently high vaccination rates means that we are preventing the serious health consequences and significant healthcare costs associated with many illnesses and are helping give everyone in our state the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, regardless of their ZIP code."

The data were gathered through a version of the CDC's National Immunization Survey that focuses on children from 13 to 17 years old. Surveyors made randomized telephone calls to parents and guardians. The information they provided was confirmed with the child's vaccination provider. The study revealed that:

  • 88.5% of Rhode Island girls and 88.7% of Rhode Island boys received at least one dose of Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the second-highest rates in the country, and much higher than the national averages for the first dose of HPV vaccine: 68.6% for girls and 62.6% for boys. HPV is a very common virus that can lead to cancer in males and females.
  • 94.6% of Rhode Island teens received the combined vaccine called Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis. This was the fifth-highest rate in the nation.
  • 94.1% of Rhode Island teens received at least one dose of Meningococcal Conjugate vaccine, the third-highest rate in the country.

A separate survey by the CDC indicated that Rhode Island had the highest overall flu vaccination rate in the nation during the 2016-2017 flu season.

Vaccines are provided to all children in Rhode Island at no cost to the child's family or the child's healthcare provider through funding provided by insurers and funding from the federal government. In addition to the accessibility of vaccines, other factors in Rhode Island's immunization success include the hard work of all Rhode Island healthcare providers and public health practitioners; KIDSNET, a statewide health information system managed by RIDOH; and Vaccinate Before You Graduate, a vaccination catch-up program offered in all Rhode Island middle and high schools.

According to a CDC study published in 2014, childhood vaccines prevented 21 million hospitalizations nationally and resulted in $295 billion savings in direct medical costs nationally between 1994 and 2013.

* Coverage rates produced by the National Immunization Survey are estimates - often referred to as point estimates. Because a random sample of telephone numbers is taken, these rates have an associated statistical margin of error. Due to statistical uncertainty (i.e. sampling error) in the estimates, Rhode Island's true vaccination rates may be slightly higher or lower.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Pleasant Lake in Providence

2018-08-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are extending the advisory to avoid contact with certain waters in Roger Williams Park to now include Pleasant Lake due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Advisories are already in place for Roosevelt Lake, Willow Pond, the Japanese Gardens and Edgewood Lake in Roger Williams Park. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People also should not ingest water or eat fish from these waterbodies. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield

2018-08-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Georgiaville Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville

2018-07-31

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville (spans Smithfield and Johnston town line) due to a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. Very high levels of microcystins were detected in water samples taken from the "Little Beach" area near Terrance Drive.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People also should not ingest water or eat fish from Slack Reservoir. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

RI Sets National Example in Protecting Public Housing Residents from Secondhand Smoke

2018-07-31

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recognizes all 25 public housing authorities (PHAs) in the state for achieving 100 percent state compliance with a new federal rule that will protect nearly 15,000 multi-unit housing residents from toxic secondhand smoke indoors.

One-hundred percent of Rhode Island's PHAs have implemented smoke-free policies that meet or exceed a new rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which takes effect July 31, 2018 to protect all housing residents, visitors, and staff from lit secondhand cigarette smoke. Under the new federal rule, no smoking is allowed indoors anywhere; outdoors, cigarettes may not be smoked within 25 feet of buildings to help prevent smoke from drifting indoors through windows and doors.

"Everyone in every community deserves to breathe clean air where they live and work," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. "We applaud all of our state's Public Housing Authorities staff who worked with their residents closely in recent years to meet HUD's new requirements. Many of our forward-thinking PHAs have exceeded HUD's minimum requirements to protect residents from more toxic chemicals from other products, and have taken extra steps to listen to smokers' concerns and help connect those who want to quit to no-cost cessation services. This is a big step in our collective efforts to build more just, equitable communities in every corner of Rhode Island."

Residents who smoke are not banned from living within a PHA residence, but are asked to smoke outdoors beyond established buffer zones.

In recent years, some PHAs have elected to adopt even stronger "clean air" policies, by setting larger outdoor buffer zones, banning all outdoor smoking entirely, and/or restricting the use of burned products such as incense, hookah, and e-cigarettes. Such "no burn" policies are typically detailed in residents' leases. Any residents with questions should contact their housing manager or refer to their signed lease.

Smoke-free and tobacco-free policies help maintain healthier living conditions for residents, visitors, workers, and pets. Other benefits of smoke-free building policies may include reduced fire hazards, lower operating and maintenance costs, and fewer neighbor disputes. PHAs in other states have also realized lower insurance premiums.

The new HUD rule takes effect following several years of discussions and a public comment period that addressed the serious and often deadly health effects of secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains more than 70 known cancer-causing particles and can trigger severe asthma attacks. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, no amount of cigarette smoke exposure is safe to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to people with chronic health conditions, the elderly, women who are pregnant, babies, children, as well as people with respiratory illnesses, weakened immune systems, and disabilities. People with chronic health conditions who live in public housing often do not have adequate access to health services or health insurance, while illnesses caused by secondhand smoke can cause great financial strain on individuals, regardless of their financial situations.

This new HUD rule will protect close to two million Americans nationwide from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, including 690,000 children.

The new HUD rule also takes effect shortly after Rhode Island has included e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in the state's long-established Public Places and Workplace Safety Act. For PHA buildings, this means that Rhode Island state law also prohibits e-cigarettes from being used in any indoor or enclosed public common areas such as hallways, elevators, staircases, offices, laundry rooms, and recreation areas.

To learn more about or to receive free technical assistance on adopting smokefree, tobacco-free, and clean air policies for multi-housing properties, please contact the RIDOH Tobacco Control Program Live Smokefree Program at (401) 222-7637.

In Rhode Island, regardless of insurance or ability to pay, anyone who wants to quit smoking can get free cessation support services and free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products by calling the Rhode Island Smokers' Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Statement from Dr. Alexander-Scott on the Work Stoppage at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital

2018-07-27

The following statement can be attributed to Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health:

"As a part of our commitment to patient safety, Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) staff were at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital day and night throughout this week. We were at the hospitals again this afternoon to monitor the transition back from the replacement healthcare workers to the facilities' regular healthcare workers. We will remain actively engaged with the hospitals throughout the weekend, assessing the return to normal operations. Current indications are that this work stoppage concluded without any major patient care incidents. This was the result of the vigilance and persistence of staff at RIDOH before the strike and throughout, the flexibility and cooperation of the leadership of the other Rhode Island hospitals, and the tremendous dedication of the healthcare providers throughout the state this week."

"It is in the interest of patients, other healthcare facilities and providers, and the healthcare system as a whole for Lifespan and the local United Nurses & Allied Professionals (UNAP) chapter to come together and arrive at a resolution to this labor dispute so that we can all ensure the safety of patients and the quality of care long-term."

WaterFire Lighting Organized to Support Efforts to Eliminate Hepatitis C

2018-07-27

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and RI Defeats Hep C invite all Rhode Islanders to attend the 'C is for Cure' WaterFire lighting on July 28th – World Hepatitis Day – to rally support to eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island. The lighting will take place at 8 p.m. in downtown Providence. Festivities and performances begin at 7 p.m. at WaterFire Basin.

RI Defeats Hep C is a comprehensive program to prevent, screen, diagnose, evaluate, cure, and eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island.

"Community events, such as the 'C is for Cure' WaterFire Lighting, and collaborations in the areas of education, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are at the heart of our work to eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This work is especially important in communities where we see higher rates of hepatitis C, such as among Baby Boomers, and among people who have used injection drugs in the past. By focusing resources and efforts where they are needed most, we absolutely can make hepatitis C a thing of the past."

In a major step forward in Rhode Island's fight against hep C, the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced this month that Medicaid will cover hepatitis C medication for all Rhode Island Medicaid beneficiaries living with the disease. Previously, only medication for Medicaid recipients in advanced stages of hep C were covered.

"This new policy goes to the heart of what Medicaid exists to do: ensure people, regardless of life circumstance, have the medical care and supports they need," said Medicaid Director Patrick Tigue. "Few policies have this type of direct, immediate impact on people's lives. I am thankful for the partnership that made this possible and the leadership our state continues to demonstrate in implementing responsible public health policies that put Rhode Islanders first."

RIDOH continues to work to end the epidemic in Rhode Island. RIDOH funds community partners to provide free and confidential rapid hepatitis C screening to anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to hepatitis C. In addition, RIDOH works closely with ENCORE, the state's needle-exchange program, to provide brand new needles and other injecting equipment and harm-reduction counseling for people who use injection drugs.

Recent advances in medications that can cure hepatitis C have made hepatitis C elimination a viable goal for Rhode Island. To achieve this goal, RIDOH is taking steps to re-visit the core components of its strategic plan to eliminate hepatitis. These core components include:

  • Preventing hepatitis C virus transmission and new infections;
  • Screening every Rhode Islander for hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime, and diagnosing every case of hepatitis C
  • Linking every case of hepatitis C to a clinician who can evaluate and treat hepatitis C;
  • Ensuring equitable access to hepatitis C treatment for all individuals who are living with hepatitis C; and
  • Curing as many patients of hepatitis C as possible.

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus, a blood-borne virus that is not spread through casual contact. It is not a classic sexually transmitted infection. Hepatitis C is only spread when blood from another person who has hepatitis C, gets put in to the bloodstream of another person. Some people acquired hepatitis C via a blood transfusion before 1992, or via hemodialysis. Others become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs.

For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness, but for 70%?85% of people who become infected, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, even death. Most people who are infected with hepatitis C virus do not know it because they have no symptoms until very late in the disease. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, such as avoiding injection and intranasal drug use.

Of the more than three million people in the United States who are living with hepatitis C, 75% were born between 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers have a 1 in 30 chance of infection.

People for whom testing is extremely important include anyone who:

  • Is a Baby Boomer;
  • Has HIV infection;
  • Was born to a woman with hepatitis C;
  • Currently injects drugs;
  • Has ever injected drugs, including anyone who injected drugs once or a few times many years ago;
  • Has a history of intranasal (through the nose, or snorting) drug use, including those who snorted only once many years ago. An example is snorting cocaine.
  • Received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987;
  • Has ever had long-term hemodialysis;
  • Has persistently elevated liver blood tests -- elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels;
  • Has been notified they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for HCV infection; or
  • Received a blood transfusion, blood components, or an organ transplant before July 1992.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Roosevelt Lake and Mashapaug Pond in Providence

2018-07-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Department of Environmental Management are advising people to avoid contact with Roosevelt Lake (part of the Roger Williams Park Ponds) and Mashapaug Pond in Providence due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People also should not ingest water or eat fish from Roosevelt Lake and Mashapaug Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Pepperidge Farm Recalling Four Varieties of Goldfish Crackers

2018-07-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Pepperidge Farm is recalling four varieties of Goldfish crackers. A seasoning that is applied to these crackers has been the subject of a recall due to the potential presence of Salmonella. The products were distributed throughout the United States. No illnesses have been reported. No other Pepperidge Farm products in the U.S. are subject to this recall.

The following four varieties are subject to this recall:

  • Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar
  • Flavor Blasted Sour Cream & Onion
  • Goldfish Baked with Whole Grain Xtra Cheddar
  • Goldfish Mix Xtra Cheddar + Pretzel

Salmonella is a microorganism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Consumers who have purchased these products should not eat them. Recalled product should be discarded or may be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may call 800-679-1791.

Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits Being Recalled

2018-07-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Mondelez Global is recalling certain Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits product. These products contain whey powder as an ingredient, which the whey powder supplier has recalled due to the potential presence of Salmonella.

Salmonella is a microorganism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. There have been no complaints of illness reported to Mondel?z Global to date in connection with these products. The company is conducting this recall as a precaution, based on the ingredient supplier's recall.

Consumers who have these products should not eat them, and should discard any products they may have. Consumers can contact the company at 1-844-366 -1171, 24 hours a day to get more information about the recall, and Consumer Relations specialists are available Monday – Friday, 9am to 6pm EST.

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

RIDOH Working to Ensure Patient Safety During Hospitals' Strike

2018-07-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is coordinating directly with Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital leadership, and is working closely with healthcare providers and healthcare facilities throughout the state to ensure that safe, quality care continues to be delivered during the work stoppage scheduled for next week.

The United Nurses and Allied Professional (UNAP) Local 5098 has announced a strike of approximately 2,400 healthcare providers at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital. The union represents nurses, technologists, therapists, and support staff, among others. The work stoppage is anticipated to last for four days, starting Monday afternoon.

"The Rhode Island Department of Health's absolute priority during this work stoppage is patient safety and the quality of care," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "We prepare year-round for a wide range of challenges at Rhode Island hospitals, and we have been preparing for this particular situation for weeks. Department of Health staff will be at the hospitals throughout the strike, and we will be in constant communication with healthcare facilities throughout the state to ensure that all patients continue to receive premium services and care."

Steps being taken by RIDOH in advance of and during the strike include:

  • Reviewing a plan from Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital for how they intend to ensure safe, quality care for patients. (RIDOH is providing feedback and input on this plan.)
  • Expediting the process of issuing licenses to more than 1,000 replacement healthcare providers who will be at the hospitals. In anticipation of a potential work stoppage, RIDOH began the process of getting these individuals licensed on June 1.
  • Working with the leadership at all other Rhode Island hospitals, as well as EMS providers, to ensure their readiness for any additional patients. RIDOH is also coordinating with other nearby hospitals outside of Rhode Island.
  • Being on-site at the hospitals throughout the work stoppage.

Licensed healthcare professionals who are not part of the strike are expected to fulfill their professional obligations and work any previously scheduled shifts next week.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted For Wilbur and McMahon School in Little Compton

2018-07-19

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Wilbur and McMahon School in Little Compton has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it was performing pump repairs.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom Advisory in East Providence Expanded

2018-07-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with water from Central Pond, Turner Reservoir, Omega Pond, and the portion of Ten Mile River that flows from Turner Reservoir to Omega Pond in East Providence due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

RIDOH Recommends Closing Goddard Park State Beach in Warwick for Swimming

2018-07-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends closing Goddard Park State Beach in Warwick for swimming because of high bacteria counts.

When a beach closure is recommended, water quality analysis is conducted by RIDOH's laboratory or a state-certified laboratory. The status of a beach may change on a daily basis. The most up-to-date beach information is available through a recorded message on RIDOH's beaches telephone line (401-222-2751).

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Turner Reservoir in East Providence

2018-07-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Turner Reservoir in East Providence due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Turner Reservoir. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Church Woods

2018-07-13

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Church Woods (Charlestown) has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Rhode Island's Pain Management Regulations Updated to Ensure Safer Opioid Prescribing

2018-07-09

Rhode Island's updated pain management regulations now require healthcare providers who are writing opioid prescriptions:

  1. to have a conversation with their patients on the risks of taking an opioid prescription,
  2. indicate the diagnosis code(s) on the prescription.
  3. to co-prescribe naloxone to patients at higher risk for overdose.

The regulations apply to anyone who can prescribe a controlled substance including physicians, dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

In communications about the regulation changes, Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) officials also firmly reiterated to healthcare providers that effective, non-opioid pain management treatments are available with much less risk to patients, and that these treatments should be considered before opioids. These alternatives include non-prescription ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin) and/or acetaminophen i.e., Tylenol), physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy, among other modalities.

1. The regulations allow for patient education to happen either through a conversation with the patient or in writing. The patient education must include a conversation that includes:

  • Risks of developing dependence and the potential of overdose or death.
  • Risks related to the concurrent use of opioids and alcohol or benzodiazepines. (Benzodiazepines are sedatives, such as Xanax and Valium.)
  • The effect of opioids on one's ability to safely operate any motor vehicle.
  • Patient's responsibility to safeguard all opioid medications in a secure location.
  • Alternative treatments for managing pain (non-opioid and/or non-pharmacologic options).
  • Risks of relapse for those who are in recovery from substance dependence.

RIDOH has provided material to healthcare providers in English and Spanish that they can use to guide conversations with patients about the risks of opioids.

"Honest, direct conversation from healthcare providers about risks is a critical part of providing safe, quality care for patients who are prescribed opioids," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Rhode Island has made significant strides in reducing the number of opioids being prescribed, and in making sure that those prescriptions are being written and filled safely. These newest updates to our pain management regulations will keep us moving in that direction, and will continue to reduce the number of overdoses in our state that are associated with prescription pain medication, while maintaining compassionate care for patients who deal with chronic pain. Prescribers, patients, and all Rhode Islanders have a role to play in saving lives."

2. The requirement that healthcare providers include the diagnosis code on the prescription allows the pharmacists to understand why the controlled substance in being dispensed to the patient. Pharmacists are then able to use this information to have follow-up conversations with prescribers or patients to ensure that patients are being treated with the appropriate medication.

Ensuring the safe prescribing of opioids is a key effort within the prevention strategy of the Strategic Plan of Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The other three strategies are treatment, rescue, and recovery. The Task Force is chaired by Dr. Alexander-Scott; Rebecca Boss, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH); and Tom Coderre, a Senior Advisor to Governor Raimondo.

"Addiction and overdose are claiming lives, destroying families, and undermining the quality of life across Rhode Island," stated BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss. "Updating the Pain Management Regulations is a necessary step as we cannot fight the overdose epidemic without the support and assistance of our medical community. Education by a trusted provider, and co-prescribing Naloxone to those at risk for dependence on opioids, is crucial in this fight to save lives."

3. Naloxone, with a brand name, Narcan, is a medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose Prescribers must co-prescribe naloxone in these three different clinical scenarios:

  • When prescribing an opioid individually or in combination with other medications that is more than or equal to 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) per day.
  • When prescribing any dose of an opioid when a benzodiazepine has been prescribed in the past 30 days or will be prescribed at the current visit.
  • When prescribing any dose of an opioid to a patient with a prior history of opioid use disorder or overdose. Prescribers must also document in the patient's medical record the medical necessity of prescribing an opioid to this high-risk individual and explain why the benefit outweighs the risk, given the patient's previous history.

Opioid prescription pain medications are a type of medicine used to relieve pain. Some of the common names include oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet); oxycodone, (OxyContin); and hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Vicodin).

Rhode Island's pain management regulations were last updated in March 2017. Among other changes, those updates required that initial prescriptions for acute pain be limited to 20 doses and no more than 30 MMEs per day; prohibited long-acting or extended-release opioids for initial prescriptions for acute pain; and required continuing medical education training for prescribers on topics such as appropriate prescribing for pain, pharmacology, potential for dependence, and alternatives to opioids for pain management.

The number of new opioid prescriptions has been steadily declining in Rhode Island, particularly as the pain management regulations have been updated. In first quarter of 2018, 34,564 people received new opioid prescriptions, down from 43,373 in the first quarter of 2017. Rhode Island has also seen a decline in the number of people co-prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines. In 2017, 32,609 people were co-prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines, down from 46,452 in 2014.

The most recent updates to Rhode Island's pain management regulations come two weeks after RIDOH and BHDDH hosted a second Community Overdose Engagement (CODE) Summit with more than 300 attendees. The event celebrated the success of 25 Rhode Island cities and towns that committed to developing comprehensive, local overdose response plans.

Additional resources:

  • Rhode Island's Hope and Recovery Support Line is available to connect people in crisis with treatment and recovery support. To access services through an English and/or Spanish-speaking counselor who is licensed in chemical-dependency and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, people should call (401)-942-STOP.
  • Overdose data and treatment and recovery resources are available at Rhode Island's overdose dashboard and website: PreventOverdoseRI.org.

RIDOH Urges Precautions to Prevent Heat-related Illness

2018-06-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) urges all Rhode Islanders to protect themselves against the elevated heat indexes forecasted for the coming week with a few simple health precautions. Heat indexes above 90 degrees are expected from Sunday through the 4th of July.

"Extreme heat can be quite dangerous, particularly for our young and elderly Rhode Islanders," said Director Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "It's important to check on each other, stay well hydrated, limit exposure to heat, and to be vigilant for signs of heat-related illness."

To protect yourself and your family from heat-related illness, take the following precautions:

  • Drink more fluids than usual, and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink more fluids.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids that contain high amounts of sugar.
  • Check on friends and neighbors, particularly those who are caring for young children and those who are elderly.
  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you don't have air conditioning at home, head to a community-based cooling center, such as a shopping mall or library, if possible.
  • Stay out of the sun. Find a shaded area where you can sit and relax, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Add a hat if you must be outside.
  • Limit outdoor activities, especially at mid-day. If you exercise outdoors, move your workout to a morning or evening time, take it indoors to an air-conditioned environment, or try swimming, which is a great summer exercise. If you work outside, wear sunscreen (re-apply frequently), pace your activity, stay hydrated, and check on co-workers.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down, particularly if you're unable to be in an air-conditioned location.
  • Avoid turning on your oven, if possible. It will make your house hotter.
  • Never leave young children or pets in parked cars, even with the windows down.?

Heat-related illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, are of particular concern during periods of extreme heat. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale or clammy skin, a fast or weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. Individuals who have symptoms of heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, lie down, loosen clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to help cool the body down. Seek medical attention if vomiting begins, or if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

Heat stroke symptoms include high body temperature (above 103 degrees F), combined with hot, red, dry or moist skin, rapid and strong pulse, confusion, and losing consciousness (passing out). Heat stroke is a medical emergency and 911 should be called immediately. Individuals experiencing heat stroke symptoms should also be moved to a cooler environment. Apply cool cloths or place the person into a cool bath to lower body temperature.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Wilbur and McMahon School

2018-06-28

The Wilbur and McMahon School, located at 28 Commons in Little Compton, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system is performing pump repairs. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. This notice also applies to the additional buildings served by the school well: the town maintenance barn, Odd Fellow Grange Hall, Community Center, and Town Hall.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Wilbur & McMahon School will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Wilbur & McMahon School will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Christopher Osborne, Sr., at 401-835-8884.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Almy Pond and Melville Ponds

2018-06-27

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Almy Pond in Newport and Melville Ponds in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Almy or Melville Pond and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Survey Gives Voice to RI Youth; Reveals a Mix of Health Behavior Trends

2018-06-27

Results from a comprehensive youth health survey released today suggest that middle and high school students in Rhode Island have made improvements in health behaviors over the past 10 years in many areas, including seat belt use, sexual activity, and alcohol and illegal prescription drug use. However, through the survey, the voices of Rhode Island youth revealed some concerning trends, including trends related to mental health, e-cigarette use, and marijuana use.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). The survey, which is administered every two years, is implemented through anonymous questionnaires in Rhode Island public schools. These most recent data were collected from January 2017 to May 2017. The data are used to help policy makers, school administrators, social service workers, and public health professionals understand trends in the health behaviors of young people across the state and to create health-related policies that will impact those behaviors. By participating, schools make sure their students' voices are heard and can get resources with the support needed to help solve pressing challenges, like student stress, substance abuse, and bullying.

"Supporting the healthy development of middle school and high school students requires us to have an accurate, comprehensive understanding of the issues they face. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is an invaluable tool in our work to develop such an understanding, by making sure we can hear directly from students themselves, and to do all we can to help Rhode Island kids be healthy and safe," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The Youth Risk Behavior Survey also helps us learn from the voices of our young people to understand how students are disproportionately affected by different health issues. Understanding these disparities allows us to better address the factors at the community-level that affect students' decisions and behaviors. All students in Rhode Island deserve an equal opportunity to be heard, so they can access what they need to be healthy and thrive."

"Like SurveyWorks, Rhode Island's school culture and climate survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey puts student voice at the center of policymaking and allows young people to share their experiences in a safe, anonymous way," said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "When we amplify student voice, we are better positioned to foster safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environments that empower all students and put them on a path to success."

"Rhode Island leads the nation in adolescent immunizations and we have the third highest insured rate for youth. Yet, data trends related to mental health, substance use, and physical activity from this YRBS survey, especially highlighting certain important populations, show that we have more work to do to support our youth as they face complex challenges every day," said EOHHS Secretary Eric J. Beane. "I am pleased to see these federal and state agencies come together and administer this survey, which allows our youth to tell us about their own experiences, and guide us in how we can best serve them."

"BHDDH is committed to utilizing data-driven decision making as the basis for our programming directed towards youth and young adults. For the most comprehensive understanding of what supports our schools and families need to address the challenges that Rhode Island middle and high-school students face, we depend on our three state school surveys to amplify their voice: BHDDH's Rhode Island Student Survey, RIDE's SurveyWorks, and YRBS data through RIDOH, which allows for comparisons to other states," said BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss. "Since we work in conjunction with RIDOH and RIDE, new results, such as what we've learned from the YRBS survey given to our youth population, are critical in developing services that will have the optimal impact."

Rhode Island YRBS data overview

Examples of health behavior improvements

  • Tobacco, illegal prescription drug, and alcohol use: 5% of middle school students have ever tried cigarette smoking, down from 16% in 2007. In 2017, 6.1% of high school students currently smoke, a decline from 15% in 2007. 7% of high school students reported having ever misused a prescription drug, a decrease from 14% in 2011. The percentage of high school students who currently drink alcohol was almost cut in half in 10 years (43% in 2007 to 23% in 2017).
  • Driving: High school students who reported that they rode with a driver who had been drinking decreased from 28% in 2007 to 14% in 2017. In 2007, 14% of students reported rarely or never wearing a seat belt when riding in the car driven by someone else. This decreased to 7% in 2017.
  • Sex: The percentage of middle school students who have ever had sex decreased from 15% in 2009 to 8% in 2017. The percentage of high school students who have ever had sex decreased from 46% in 2007 to 36% in 2017.

Some concerning trends

  • Mental health: 23% of middle school and 29% of high school students were so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more that they stopped usual activities. 12% of Rhode Island high school students considered suicide in the past year in 2007, compared to 16% in 2017. In 2017, 14% of high schoolers said they had made a suicide plan in the past year. The percent of high school students who reported attempting suicide in their lifetime increased from 9% in 2007 to 11% in 2017.
  • Smoking electronic cigarettes: 16% of middle school students have ever tried e-cigarettes and 6% currently use e-cigarettes. 40% of high school students have tried an electronic vapor product, and 20% have done so in the past 30 days.
  • Marijuana use: Rates of marijuana use have not decreased in the last 10 years. In 2017, 23% of Rhode Island high school student smoked marijuana in the past 30 days, the same percentage from 2007. 9% of middle school and 37% of high school students report having ever used marijuana.

Examples of health disparities

  • Mental health: The prevalence of sadness and suicide risk behaviors are two to four times higher among students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, compared to their heterosexual peers. Mental health issues were more common among female and Hispanic high school and middle school students. In addition, students with disabilities had a significantly higher rate of sadness and four times the prevalence of suicide ideation and suicide attempts compared to students without disabilities.
  • Bullying: 17% of students were bullied on school property, and 14% were cyber-bullied in the past year. Students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (31% for both types of bullying) and students with a disability (30% at school, 25% cyber) experienced bullying at higher rates than their peers. Hispanic and Caucasian high school students were more likely to be bullied at school and online, compared to African American students. Female high school students experienced higher rates of cyber-bullying than males.
  • Smoking: 34% of students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have ever smoked cigarettes, compared to 18% of students who identify as heterosexual. 52% of students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have ever used e-cigarettes, compared to 39% of students who identify as heterosexual. The rate of current cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use is higher among Caucasian high school students, compared to African American students. Current e-cigarette use is higher among male high school students than females.
  • Marijuana use: Hispanic middle school students had a higher prevalence of use than Caucasian students. Males were more likely than female middle school students to try marijuana before age 11.
  • Physical activity: 32% of students with disabilities were physically active for at least 60 minutes five days a week, compared to 44% of students without a disability.

Additional Youth Risk Behavior Survey data on other health trends are available online. Only statewide data are available. (Data are not available by city and town.) However, comparisons between Rhode Island and other states are available online.

At RIDOH, data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey are used to develop health programs for teenagers throughout Rhode Island. For example, RIDOH's Youth Suicide Prevention Program uses the data to examine the co-occurrence of suicidal thoughts with answers to other survey questions to help those in the suicide prevention field address suicide risk and protective factors specific to youth. Additionally, RIDOH's Sexually Transmitted Disease and HIV Prevention Programs implemented a comprehensive, youth-focused social media campaign partially in response to Youth Risk Behavior Survey data. In addition to this work, the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) uses Youth Risk Behavior Survey data to better understand and address substance use among youth in Rhode Island.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey data are collected in a safe, confidential way. It has been conducted nationally since 1991, with validated methodologies and effectiveness. CDC confirms that there is no evidence that asking students about health behaviors will encourage them to experiment with those behaviors. Results are secure and anonymous. Because no identifiable information is collected about students (such as names or dates of birth), there is no way to link responses to individual students, and students who participated cannot be tracked. Additionally, all parents are informed before the survey is administered that the survey is optional.

The process for the 2019 YRBS spring data collection will begin at the end of this year. Through coordination of YRBS of behalf of RIDOH, along with RIDE's SurveyWorks and BHDDH's Rhode Island Student Survey, the state will continue to work to ensure that students' voices are heard and that they have the resources they need for success in school and beyond.

RIDOH Announces Awards to Strengthen Healthcare Workforce and Narrow Health Disparities

2018-06-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Health Professional Loan Repayment Board announced $680,000 in loan repayment awards today aimed at strengthening the healthcare workforce and narrowing health disparities in Rhode Island by increasing the number of providers in medically underserved communities.

The awards went to 25 healthcare professionals, including physicians, dentists and oral healthcare providers, nurses, and behavioral healthcare providers. In accepting their loan repayment awards, the recipients have committed to practicing in medically underserved communities in Rhode Island for at least two years.

"All Rhode Islanders in every zip code deserve access to high-quality health services and care," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of Health and Chair of the Health Professional Loan Repayment Board. "The Health Professional Loan Repayment Program helps make health and medical education – and the pathway to a career in primary care in Rhode Island – more affordable for more students and new healthcare providers. It also helps ensure that all communities have the opportunity to benefit from some of the most talented, dedicated members of our healthcare workforce."

Funding for the program comes from the federal government and from various health and community organizations. The Rhode Island Health Center Association solicited matching funds from many of these organizations.

"The loan repayment program is a critical tool in recruiting and retaining the best clinicians to serve all communities and to assure that all Rhode Islanders have access to accessible and comprehensive primary, behavioral health and oral health services."

Contributions to the Health Professional Loan Repayment Fund were made by the Rhode Island Foundation ($200,000), Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island ($50,000), the Rhode Island Health Center Association ($50,000), Delta Dental of Rhode Island ($50,000), Landmark Medical Center ($50,000), CharterCARE Health Partners ($50,000), Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island ($30,000), and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan ($25,000). Several of these organizations, including the Rhode Island Foundation, the Rhode Island Health Center Association, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island have contributed funding for several consecutive years or have increased their contributions over time. Additionally, $175,000 in federal matching funds were contributed by U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) through a grant to RIDOH.

More information about the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, including a definition of a medically underserved community, is available online (link below).

Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program Award Recipients

Blackstone Valley Community Health Center:

  • Cameron Lang – Physician
  • Pedro Ochoa – Dentist
  • Ann Bisland – Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
  • Yuli Roldan – Registered Dental Hygienist

Center for Primary Care (Rhode Island Hospital clinic):

  • Rahul Vanjani – Physician

Community Care Alliance:

  • Sarah Csizmesia – Registered Nurse

Eleanor Slater Hospital:

  • Nadia McGovern – Licensed Professional Counselor

Family Service of Rhode Island:

  • Eileen D'Eletto – Licensed Professional Counselor

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England:

  • Danika Severino Wynn – Certified Nurse Midwife

Providence Community Health Centers:

  • Karla Arango – Registered Nurse
  • Natasha Bica – Physician
  • Marileni Espinal – Registered Nurse
  • Sarah Gambell – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Jennifer Logigian – Dentist
  • Mark Pfeiffer – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Eileen Pinheiro – Registered Nurse
  • Emily White – Physician
  • Jennifer Willoughby – Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Samuels Sinclair Dental Center:

  • Elizabeth Benz – Dentist
  • Eileen Danaher – Dentist

The Providence Center:

  • Julie Caraballo – Registered Nurse
  • Sandrine Guilherme – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Patrick Ofori-Appiah – Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Thundermist Health Center:

  • Anna Slanda – Registered Nurse

WellOne Primary Medical and Dental Care

  • Kanchan Pande – Dentist

NOW Health Group Inc. Recalls NOW Real Food Zesty Sprouting Mix

2018-06-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that NOW Health Group, Inc. is recalling its NOW Real Food Zesty Sprouting Mix – Product Code 7271, Lot #3031259 and Lot #3038165 – because its primary ingredient, Crimson Clover Seeds, has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Approximately 10,000 units of Zesty Sprouting Mix were distributed online and in retail stores nationwide since December 2017.

No other products are affected or are involved in this recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.

NOW has provided information on this recall to all its retailers who purchased this product and has encouraged retailers to make every effort to contact their customers to facilitate the return of affected products.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled Zesty Sprouting Mix should stop using the product immediately and return it to place of purchase for a full refund. Receipt is not required for refund.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact NOW's Customer Service Department by phone at 888-NOW-FOODS (888-669-3663) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Central time.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Church Woods (located in Charlestown)

2018-06-21

Church Woods located at 4150 Old Post Road in Charlestown, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because of a water main break and the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Church Woods will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally.

Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Church Woods will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Ronald Russo at 401-364-6368.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Meadowlark, Inc.

2018-06-19

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Meadowlark, Inc. (located in Middletown) has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

State Recognizes Cities and Towns for Leadership on Overdose Prevention and Response; Convenes hundreds of partners for second statewide Community Overdose Engagement Summit

2018-06-19

On behalf of her Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, Governor Gina M. Raimondo joined Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane and the Task Force Co-Chairs, Tom Coderre, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor, and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and Rebecca Boss, Directors of the Rhode Island Departments of Health (RIDOH) and Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), to recognize 25 cities and towns for their leadership in developing comprehensive overdose prevention response plans.

The cities and towns received the Overdose Leadership Designations as more than 300 leaders were convened for the second statewide Community Overdose Engagement Summit to collaboratively address the overdose epidemic. The Summit served as a follow up to a convening in December 2017 to assist municipalities in developing local overdose response plans.

"Over the six months since we were last here, Rhode Island has had incredible momentum in implementing innovative programs to combat this overdose crisis," said Raimondo. "Some of the best ideas come from the people with their boots on the ground in our communities. I congratulate the cities and towns recognized today for their leadership in tackling this crisis. When we work together, we can save lives."

"The overdose crisis is destroying lives and tearing families apart in all corners of the state," said Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane. "Turning things around in Rhode Island means facing our challenges and choices head on and committing to action. That's why I am so pleased to see 25 different communities from across our state develop comprehensive overdose prevention response plans."

Summit participants included municipal leaders, public health practitioners, healthcare providers, pharmacists, behavioral health counselors, law enforcement personnel and other first responders, people in the recovery and treatment communities, prevention coalition members, family and youth substance use prevention organization members, and representatives from Rhode Island Centers of Excellence and RIDOH's Health Equity Zones (HEZs).

"Thanks to Jonathan Goyer's success story of recovery, we know that the opposite of addiction is connectedness," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This Community Overdose Engagement Summit built on the connections made during our first convening in December, and provided the opportunity for a wide range of partners to share the innovative approaches they have developed to prevent and respond to overdoses in their communities. We are fulfilling this year's theme for the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force that is all about our Communities Coming Together, because everyone plays a role in changing perceptions about addiction to support each other, regardless of the zip code we're from."

"The incredible turnout for today's Summit shows that leaders across the State are committed to supporting community members struggling with substance use disorder," said BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss. "To address Rhode Island's overdose crisis, we must focus on prevention and rescue, and we must also help people gain access to treatment and the resources needed to be successful in recovery. The development of these comprehensive plans at the city and town level is a critical step in our collective efforts to prevent overdoses and save lives."

At the first statewide Community Overdose Engagement Summit in December 2017, RIDOH and BHDDH challenged Rhode Island cities and towns to develop comprehensive overdose response plans based on the Governor's statewide Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force Action Plan. RIDOH made grant funding of up to $5000 available to municipalities to assist them in completing these plans.

Cities and towns recognized for the development of comprehensive overdose prevention response plans include:

  • Town of Burrillville
  • Town of Charlestown
  • Town of Richmond
  • Town of Hopkinton
  • Town of Narragansett
  • Town of South Kingstown
  • Town of Warren
  • Town Bristol
  • Town of Barrington
  • City of East Providence
  • City of Warwick
  • City of Providence
  • Town of Portsmouth
  • Town of Little Compton
  • Town of Tiverton
  • Town of Coventry
  • Town of North Kingstown
  • City of Pawtucket
  • City of Newport
  • Town of West Greenwich
  • Town of Westerly
  • Town of West Warwick
  • City of Woonsocket
  • Town of Exeter
  • City of Central Falls

A video that highlights the innovative work of five Rhode Island municipalities that developed comprehensive overdose response plans is available at https://vimeo.com/274566500/536fef29cf.

Since March 2014 hospitals and emergency departments have been required to report any suspected opioid overdoses to RIDOH within 48 hours. These data have allowed RIDOH to look at overdose activity in each community on a weekly basis and identify data trends and abnormalities. Through this data analysis, thresholds for local warnings were established and a system for alerting local leaders was developed. Rhode Island Overdose Action Area Response (ROAAR) public health advisories are sent to first responders and municipal leaders to alert them of an increase in overdose activity within a seven-day period. In addition, when RIDOH observes an increase in a specific geographical area three times within a six-week period, RIDOH, BHDDH, and the Rhode Island Fusion Center hold a local Community Overdose Engagement meeting with those leaders to examine the community's customized data, discuss their unique challenges, and form solutions. Today's Summit was the second statewide Community Overdose Engagement meeting, designed to bring communities together to learn from one another and develop local overdose response plans.

Kellogg Company Voluntarily Recalls Honey Smacks Cereal Due to Possible Health Risk

2018-06-15

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Kellogg Company today announced it is voluntarily recalling 15.3 oz. and 23 oz. packages of Kellogg's® Honey Smacks® cereal (with code dates listed below) because these products have the potential presence of Salmonella. No other Kellogg products are impacted by this recall.

Nationwide, there have been 75 cases of Salmonella in 31 states, including two cases in Rhode Island, associated with the investigation that led to this recall. RIDOH's State Health Laboratory has begun testing the product locally from shelves and RIDOH's Center for Food Protection will be communicating directly with licensed vendors about the recall.

Kellogg launched an investigation with the third-party manufacturer who produces Honey Smacks immediately after being contacted by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding reported illnesses.

Use or consumption of products contaminated with Salmonella may result in serious illness. It can also produce serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals infected with Salmonella can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses. Anyone experiencing symptoms of Salmonella should call his or her doctor.

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE RECALLED PRODUCT

The affected product includes the following varieties distributed across the United States as well as limited distribution in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, the Caribbean, Guam, Tahiti and Saipan. The BEST if Used By Date can be found on the top of the cereal box, and the UPC code can be found on the bottom of the box.

Honey Smacks (with limited distribution outside the U.S.) UPC: 3800039103 Size: 15.3 oz Best if Used by Date: JUN 14, 2018 through JUN 14, 2019

Honey Smacks UPC: 3800014810 Size:23 oz

Best if Used by Date:JUN 14, 2018 through JUN 14, 2019

Kellogg is asking that people who purchased potentially affected product discard it and contact the company for a full refund. Consumers seeking more information, including images of these products, can visit kelloggs.com/honeysmacksrecall or call 1-800-962-1413 from Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET as well as Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET.

Rhode Island Launches Campaign to Prevent Opioid Addiction; State Collaborated with Truth Initiative on National, Research-Informed Effort Targeting Youth

2018-06-13

The Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force announced today a local launch of a multi-channel, public prevention and education campaign called The Truth About Opioids. Using research partially conducted in Rhode Island, and created by Truth Initiative®, the campaign launched nationally last week, in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council. The comprehensive campaign aims to prevent and reduce misuse of opioids among youth and young adults. The first wave of ads, which feature true stories of young Americans with opioid use disorder, will begin running in Rhode Island through an extensive, state-specific media buy later this month.

The ads can be viewed at:

Amy's story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_tXPFJ6WbM

Chris's story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOkuM8_SMN8

Kyle's story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E__3hlpVqn0

Joe's story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMIQn8sFROo

Under the leadership of Governor Gina Raimondo and her Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) partnered with Truth Initiative® on the campaign research and a robust, local implementation of the nationwide campaign.

"The opioid epidemic continues to be our most urgent public health crisis. The proliferation of these narcotics has had a devastating impact on our state," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "It is vitally important that we talk openly and often about the dangers to prevent opioid misuse and ensure all are able to get the help they need."

Rhode Island is currently the only state to invest in a significant local media buy to ensure greater reach and frequency of these campaign messages. Through this partnership with Truth Initiative®, Rhode Island was chosen as a site for some of the formative research used to develop the campaign. This involved focus groups and pre-testing of concepts with Rhode Islanders to measure attitudes about prescription opioid misuse and dependence. In addition, Rhode Island will be instrumental in the evaluation of the national campaign to determine whether the messages are shifting knowledge and attitudes about prescription opioids. Truth Initiative surveyed 18 to 34-year-olds in Rhode Island to measure knowledge and attitudes before the campaign launch, and will survey people in this age group again after the campaign has played in our local media market for about nine months.

The campaign ads address the significant role prescription medications have played in the overdose epidemic and were designed to achieve four targeted outcomes: to get people to talk about the epidemic with friends and family; to encourage people to seek more information about prescription opioids and the epidemic; to impact young people's perception of risk for misuse; and to impact their intentions to share or misuse prescription opioids.

"Rhode Island is proud to be partnering with Truth Initiative to allow the valuable information we are gathering here about substance use disorder to help address and prevent this chronic disease across the country.," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "As we do everything we can to get treatment and recovery resources to those living with substance-use disorder, it is critical that we communicate to individuals, families, and communities about what they can do to prevent prescription opioid misuse and dependence. Something as simple as a conversation can be powerful enough to save a life."

"Substance use disorder has an impact on the affected individual as well as their family and the community at large," said Rebecca Boss, MA, the Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals. "This campaign on opioid misuse clearly demonstrates the devastating impact of this epidemic. We are hopeful that it provides one more prompt which reminds those affected that addiction is disease, recovery is possible, and treatment is available."

The campaign will begin running in Rhode Island later this month and will continue through the end of February 2019. Ads will run on a variety of TV and social media outlets, which have been chosen to best reach the target audience of 18 to 34-year-olds. The campaign in Rhode Island will drive people to additional resources through Truth Initiative (opioids.thetruth.com) and to information on the State's main overdose prevention website, PreventOverdoseRI.org.

The local implementation of the campaign is supported through federal funds and donations from the Del Prete Family Foundation, Rhode Island Foundation, and the Pfizer Foundation.

"Ensuring that people have the resources they need in order to live healthy lives is one of our priorities. We are very pleased to support this effort aimed at substance use prevention, as part of the state's broader response strategy," said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

Truth Initiative, through its truth® campaign, offers an unmatched expertise and record of success in public education programs targeted to youth and young adults. Since it began in 2000, the truth campaign has prevented over one million youth and young adults from smoking. In its nearly 20 years of work in this field, Truth Initiative has engaged youth and young adults in conversations about the risks of addiction and enlisted them to not only modify their own behavior but to influence the cultural norms of peers within their social communities

The campaign was developed using a data-driven approach with extensive formative research to inform the message development. The research included extensive national surveys and focus groups among youth, including research in Rhode Island to bring a local perspective to the campaign.

Rhode Island has a 24-7 Hope and Recovery Hotline to get people connected to treatment and recovery resources. By calling 401-942-STOP, Rhode Islanders can talk to a licensed counselor in English or Spanish. No insurance is required. More information about treatment and recovery, as well as overdose data, is available at PreventOverdoseRI.org.

Middletown, RI: Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Meadowlark Inc.

2018-06-11

Meadowlark, Inc., located at 132 Prospect Avenue in Middletown, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Meadowlark, Inc., will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation.

Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Meadowlark, Inc., will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH.

People with questions should contact Diana Prue at 401-849-3803.

Venda Recalls Meat Ravioli

2018-06-09

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Venda Ravioli recalled approximately 672 pounds of frozen meat ravioli products on Friday. The recall was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (link to announcement below).

The frozen meat ravioli items were produced and packaged on various dates between February 22, 2018 and June 7, 2018. The recalled products include:

  • 16 oz. sealed trays of "VENDA RAVIOLI, PASTA FRESCA, COSTANTINO'S, MEAT RAVIOLI," and a lot code and case code of 05318, 05418, 05518, 05618, 05718, 05818, and 05918.
  • 16 oz. sealed trays of "VENDA RAVIOLI, PASTA FRESCA, COSTANTINO'S, Italian Sausage Ravioli."
  • 16 oz. sealed trays of "VENDA RAVIOLI, PASTA FRESCA, COSTANTINO'S, Prosciutto & Provolone Ravioli," and a lot code and case code of 05318, 05418, 05518, 05618, 05718, 05818, and 05918.
  • 16 oz. sealed trays of "VENDA RAVIOLI, PASTA FRESCA, COSTANTINO'S, OSSO BUCO RAVIOLI."

The Meat Ravioli and Prosciutto & Provolone products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST.9501" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The Italian Sausage Ravioli and Osso Bucco Ravioli products do not have the USDA mark of inspection on the packaging. These items were shipped to retail locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The USDA stated that the food was produced without the benefit of federal inspection. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Consumers who purchased these products should not consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Sisson Pond in Portsmouth

2018-06-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Sisson Pond in Portsmouth because of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms in that pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also not ingest untreated water or eat fish from Sisson Pond. Since pets can be affected by exposure to algal toxins, owners should not allow pets to drink this water or swim in the water. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with untreated water containing cyanobacteria can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with, Sisson Pond who experience symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with untreated water from Sisson Pond should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

Note that Sisson Pond is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended.

Water that is treated to become drinking water comes from nine different surface reservoirs or ponds: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton - all owned and maintained by Newport Water. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Sisson Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms. Most algae blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

Newport Water needs all residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island and in Tiverton and Little Compton to help protect these valuable drinking water supplies. State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted.

Cyanobacteria blooms also occur in other waterbodies in the state. The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH Announces Consent Agreement with Rhode Island Hospital

2018-06-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Hospital have entered into a Consent Agreement, in lieu of regulatory action, that will result in the healthcare facility implementing a series of system improvement measures over the coming year.

The agreement follows a review by RIDOH of four reported incidents involving Rhode Island Hospital patients during February and March 2018. The incidents involved patient identification and procedure verification.

"Whenever preventable errors occur in hospital settings, it is essential that we scrutinize those errors carefully and that facilities make the systems changes needed to ensure that they do not occur again," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Rhode Island is home to some of the preeminent healthcare facilities in the region and the country. Inspections and regulatory work by the Department of Health are critical to ensuring that our hospitals maintain that status, and to ensuring that the healthcare system as a whole continues to provide quality patient care."

The steps to be taken by Rhode Island Hospital outlined in the Consent Agreement include:

  • Requesting and implementing the recommendations of the national hospital accrediting body, known as the Joint Commission, and putting in place process improvement methodologies developed by the Joint Commission.
  • Conducting facility-wide training on patient identification and procedure verification.
  • Scheduling a series of meetings with community emergency medical service (EMS) leadership and emergency department staff (among other staff) to identify opportunities for improvement related to patient identification.
  • Submitting to RIDOH policies and procedures related to access to electronic medical records, with a focus on policies related to the number of patients records a user can access simultaneously.
  • Hiring an external compliance organization to provide monitoring and oversight for at least one year.

Rhode Island Hospital has agreed to invest a minimum of $1 million in these and other improvement efforts that RIDOH required through this Consent Agreement.

Hospitals are required to report to RIDOH incidents that fall within more than two dozen categories. Examples of such categories include blood transfusion errors; unforeseen complications that result in extended patient stays; medication errors that require medical interventions; and electricity failures. The actions announced today are in response to the number of incidents that occurred at Rhode Island Hospital during this period (February and March 2018).

Federal health privacy laws prevent the release of information about the incidents, beyond what is in the Consent Agreement. (See link below.)

RIDOH, DEM Remind Rhode Islanders to Be Prepared for Algae Blooms

2018-06-07

With the weather turning warmer and recreational activities on the state's lakes, ponds, and rivers set to increase, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding all Rhode Islanders to be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms. Waters affected by harmful algae blooms will be bright to dark green in color and have dense, floating algal mats on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

The harmful algae blooms are caused by blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, which are naturally present in bodies of water. Increased temperatures, slow moving water, and excessive amounts of nutrients cause the cyanobacteria to grow quickly and can create colonies of growth called a bloom. These harmful algae blooms are capable of producing toxins, which have the potential to negatively impact humans and animals.

During a harmful algae bloom, all recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People also should not ingest untreated water or eat fish from affected waterbodies. Pets can also be affected by harmful algae blooms, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in this water. State and local officials work to post advisories around bodies of water when harmful algae blooms are present. However, members of the public should be on the lookout for these harmful algae blooms and know to avoid affected waters, should they encounter a bloom before advisories have been posted.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae often causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing blue-green algae include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at particular risk for health effects associated with harmful algae blooms (because they are more likely to swallow water when in or around bodies of water).

If you come into contact with water affected by a harmful algae bloom, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. If your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People who have had contact with water with algae blooms and who experience the symptoms described above should contact a healthcare provider.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Rhode Island Recognized Nationally for Top Immunization Rates

2018-06-06

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) celebrated Rhode Island for having immunization rates that are among the highest in the country for several vaccines in different age groups at their most recent National Immunization Conference.

"Our tremendous immunization success is directly attributable to the dedication of Rhode Island's healthcare provider community, including doctors, school nurses, pharmacists, and community partners, as well as to KIDSNET, a statewide health information system that helps children be as well vaccinated as possible," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Prevention is a fundamental principle of public health. By vaccinating Rhode Island children so well, we are preventing the serious health consequences that are associated with many illnesses and are helping give everyone in our state the opportunity to be as healthy as possible."

The CDC's annual National Immunization Conference brought together more than 1,500 local, state, and federal officials to explore science, policy, education, and planning issues related to immunization and vaccine-preventable diseases. Rhode Island received four individual awards:

  • The highest flu vaccination coverage rate in the nation among children six months to 17 years of age during the 2016-2017 flu season (74%);
  • The second highest flu vaccination coverage rate in the nation for adults during the 2016-2017 flu season (51%);
  • Outstanding immunization rates for the vaccines routinely administered to adolescents. For example, among adolescents, Rhode Island had the highest HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccination rate for males and females, the highest meningococcal vaccination rate, and the second highest Tdap vaccination rate. Tdap protects people against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis;
  • Outstanding immunization rates for each of the nine vaccines routinely administered to children 19 to 35 months of age, such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, rotavirus vaccine, and Hepatitis A vaccine.

In addition to preventing the health effects of many vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccines substantially reduce disease-associated healthcare expenses. According to a CDC study published in 2014, childhood vaccines prevented 21 million hospitalizations nationally and resulted in savings of $295 billion in direct medical costs nationally between 1994 and 2013.

The data were collected using the National Immunization Survey, which is a CDC program that generates vaccination estimates through calling randomly selected phone lines and following up with people's healthcare providers (if permission is granted). The rankings above are best estimates. Data are not collected on every individual, so the true vaccination rates (and therefore rankings) could be slightly higher or lower. Vaccination rates in Rhode Island and other states are evaluated against Healthy People 2020 goals, which are national health targets set by various federal health agencies, including CDC.

An additional factor in Rhode Island's immunization success is its Universal Vaccine Policy. This Universal Vaccine Policy allows healthcare providers to order all vaccines from the state for children from birth through 18 years of age, and most recommended vaccines for adults, at no cost.

Public Health, Environmental Leaders Launch Lyme Disease Prevention Campaign

2018-06-05

Amid reports at the national level and in Rhode Island of increases in Lyme disease diagnoses, state public health and environmental officials gathered on Tuesday to remind Rhode Islanders about the tick prevention measures that everyone should take when outdoors in the coming months.

Between 2016 and 2017, Rhode Island saw a 22% increase in the number of cases of Lyme disease reported by healthcare providers to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) (927 cases in 2016, versus 1,132 cases in 2017). Rhode Island has the fourth highest rate of Lyme disease in the nation. In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6717e1.htm) stating that the number of cases of diseases that are transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects more than tripled between 2004 and 2016 (27,388 cases in 2004, versus 96,075 cases in 2016).

"While enjoying our beautiful parks, forests, and other outdoor spaces in the coming months, Rhode Islanders should reduce exposure to ticks, check their bodies for ticks, and remove ticks whenever they are found to help protect against Lyme disease," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Lyme disease is a common but frequently misunderstood illness that, if not diagnosed early and treated properly, can cause very serious health problems. But the first step is prevention. All Rhode Islanders can help keep themselves and their family members safe by being tick aware this year!"

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. An infected tick usually needs to be attached to a person for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease. The ticks that carry Lyme disease can be found in parks, playgrounds, and backyards, but they are most common in very grassy areas and the woods. Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed.

"Climate change – with its elevated temperatures and increased precipitation patterns – could make conditions more hospitable for ticks in the Northeast," said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "That's why public education is so important?people need to know how to avoid contact with ticks, how to check their body and remove any ticks that are found, and the common symptoms of tick-borne diseases. The attractive, informative materials produced by RIDOH are a wonderful resource, and we're pleased to make them available for our park and campground visitors."

The prevention measures reiterated at the event at Scarborough State Beach Pavilion on Tuesday were repel, check, and remove.

Repel - Keep ticks off you, your children, and pets:

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaves. If you are going to be in a wooded area, walk in the center of the trail to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaves at the edges of the trail. You can also spray your clothes with permethrin to keep ticks away. Make sure to not spray this on your skin.
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts when outside.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks so ticks do not crawl under your clothes.
  • Wear light colored clothing so you can see the ticks more easily.

Check - Check yourself, your children, and pets, for ticks:

  • Take a shower as soon as you come inside if you have been in grassy or wooded areas.
  • Do a full-body tick check using a mirror; parents should check their kids for ticks and pay special attention to the area in and around the ears, in the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in their hair.
  • Check your pets for ticks as well since they can bring ticks into the home.

Remove - Remove ticks from your body, as well as from children and pets, if you find them:

  • Use a set of tweezers to remove the tick. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up.
  • If you don't have tweezers, use your fingers with a tissue or rubber gloves.

Most people who get Lyme disease get a rash anywhere on their body, though it may not appear until long after the tick bite (70-80% of people with Lyme disease will develop a rash, according to CDC). At first, the rash looks like a red circle, but as the circle gets bigger, the middle changes color and seems to clear, so the rash looks like a target bull's-eye. Some people don't get a rash, but feel sick, with headaches, fever, body aches, and fatigue. Over time, they could have swelling and pain in their joints and a stiff, sore neck; or they could become forgetful or have trouble paying attention. A few people may even have heart problems. A healthcare provider can help evaluate symptoms that are related to Lyme disease for appropriate diagnosis and treatment options.

Public health officials state that the recent increases in Lyme diagnoses could be attributable to many factors. These factors include increased testing because of increased awareness about Lyme disease, more accurate case reporting by healthcare providers, and an expansion of the areas where people are at higher risk for tick exposure. An additional, possible contributor could be an increase in the number of ticks in Rhode Island, due to a variety of environmental factors, such as increased temperatures and rainfall.

Rhode Island's Lyme disease prevention work is part of larger efforts toward building greater community resilience, which will help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from the adverse health effects of climate change.

Other speakers at the event, in addition to Director Coit and Dr. Alexander-Scott, were Jeanine Silversmith from the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association, and Mary Lorusso-DiBara from the Lyme Newport Support Group.

Speakers at the event promoted RIDOH's Tick Free Rhode Island media campaign. The campaign, which includes ads on television, radio, and social media, features three new animated Tick Free Rhode Island videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZGW-MaBM0E&list=PLJvP6pW6mcXqN6jlFtK9_NuIZnO4CqM6i). The videos show how to repel both ticks and mosquitoes, how to check for ticks, and how to properly remove a tick from the skin. To view the videos and get more information on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases visit http://www.health.ri.gov/ticks.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for W. Alton Jones Campus (URI) Whispering Pines

2018-06-01

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the W. Alton Jones Campus – URI – Whispering Pines (located in West Greenwich) has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Wilbur and McMahon School (Little Compton)

2018-05-31

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Wilbur and McMahon School (Little Compton) has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

RIDOH Awards Grants for Projects to Address Public Health and Climate Change

2018-05-31

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has awarded $42,000 in grants to 10 local groups to work on projects related to climate change education and community resilience, all aimed at helping communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from the adverse health effects of climate change.

The grants will fund 10 projects across the state. The work of the awardees will focus on various communities, including the Cape Verdean community, people who are incarcerated, young people, senior citizens, and residents more vulnerable to heat and flooding.

"The wide ranging public health effects of climate change impacting Rhode Islanders include harm to our food and water supply; increases in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects; and increases in extreme weather events. Worse yet, certain communities will bear a disproportionate burden of the increases in injuries and diseases that we expect, and are already seeing in some cases. These communities include lower income Rhode Islanders, the elderly, and people with chronic medical conditions," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The Department of Health is funding these 10 innovative projects because public health is most successful when it is grassroots and community-driven. The entire state needs to mobilize together if we want to create a healthy, sustainable, and resilient future for all Rhode Islanders."

Grantees will work to build communities that are better prepared for disasters, and that are able to recover in ways that address the socioeconomic and environmental factors that make some individuals more vulnerable to climate change to begin with. Examples of these socioeconomic and environmental factors include transportation, education, employment opportunities, safe and healthy housing, and access to healthy food.

The awardees and grants were:

  • The Town of Barrington: Barrington Emergency Preparedness Week: Health Risks in a Changing Climate. Barrington will provide a series of workshops that will raise awareness and discuss specific steps residents can take to prevent or mitigate health threats from a variety of climate related events.
  • Bristol Fire Department: Know Your Neighbor Campaign. This project will present several workshops to seniors throughout the community to improve emergency preparedness within the first 72 hours of an emergency event, and to provide information about temperature extremes and floods.
  • Garden Time: Climate Change Education through Inmate Programming. Garden Time provides garden programs for incarcerated men and women at the Rhode Island Adult Correction Institutions. Garden Time students will conduct an environmental messaging campaign within the prison and beyond.
  • Groundwork RI: Educating Green Team Youth about Climate Resiliency. Groundwork RI will engage Green Team members in learning and communicating about climate resiliency and tick-borne illnesses and will develop a workshop to present to young audiences.
  • Neighborworks Blackstone Valley: Engaging Youth to Increase Knowledge of Emergency Preparedness. Ten "Resiliency Ambassadors" will learn about resiliency and emergency preparedness and will design creative strategies to reach families in Northern Rhode Island.
  • NobidadeTV: New Challenges, New Media, New Conversations: Cape Verdeans Talk Climate Change in Rhode Island's Urban Cores. NobidadeTV is the longest-running Cape Verdean television program in the United States, started in Rhode Island in 1988. NobidadeTV will use their programming to deepen public awareness and knowledge of climate related issues through video productions that will run on television, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Providence Housing Authority: Senior Resiliency Education and Integration. The Providence Housing Authority will integrate best practices from the Senior Resiliency Project into its Emergency Operations Manual and will reduce their residents' vulnerability to extreme heat by providing educational materials and air conditioning brackets.
  • Smithfield Emergency Management Agency: Monitoring and Responding to Extreme Heat Events. This project will allow the Smithfield Emergency Management Agency to develop a portable cooling center, create a road race event alert system to monitor weather, and to assess residents' food safety after a power loss.
  • Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council: Bringing New Voices to the Water Table: Olneyville Resists Sea Level Rise with Resilience. A new initiative, "New Voices at the Water Table" will build residents' confidence in their ability to keep families safe from flooding and will engage residents at "Nature at Work" tours and local events.
  • Young Voices: Youth Outreach on Summer Heat. For 11 years, Young Voices has empowered more than 650 low-income youth to achieve, succeed, and become confident civic leaders. Youth Voices will advocate for policy change related to summer air quality alert days and will conduct an education campaign about summer hydration.

Members of the media can write to joseph.wendelken@health.ri.gov for the contact information of organizers with specific organizations.

The funding for these grants originated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hormel Foods Corporation Recalls Canned Pork and Chicken Products

2018-05-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Hormel Food Corp. is recalling 228,614 pounds of canned pork and chicken products that may be contaminated with foreign matter, specifically pieces of metal.

The canned pork and chicken products were produced on February 8 through February 10, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 12-oz. metal cans containing "SPAM Classic" with a "Best By" February 2021 date and production codes: F020881, F020882, F020883, F020884, F020885, F020886, F020887, F020888 and F020889. These products were shipped throughout the United States.
  • 12-oz. metal cans containing "Hormel Foods Black-Label Luncheon Loaf" with a "Best By" February 2021 date and production codes F02098 and F02108. These products were shipped to Guam only.

The products subject to the recall bear establishment number "EST. 199N" on the bottom of the can. These items were shipped throughout the United States and to Guam.

The problem was discovered after the firm received four consumer complaints stating that metal objects were found in the canned products. There have been reports of minor oral injuries associated with consumption of the products.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Hormel Foods, at (800) 523-4635.

Stop and Shop Recalling Frozen Broccoli

2018-05-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Stop and Shop is recalling their Stop and Shop brand frozen broccoli florets. This product is being recalled because the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, Food & Standards pulled a store sample that tested positive for Listeria Monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may experience short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Listeria infection can also cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and fetal infection in pregnant women. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

This product should not be consumed. Customers can return this product for a full refund.

Boil Water Notice Issued for W. Alton Jones Campus (URI) Whispering Pines Conference Center

2018-05-21

The Whispering Pines Conference Center at URI's W. Alton Jones Campus (located in West Greenwich) has issued a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Whispering Pines Conference Center at URI's W. Alton Jones Campus will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at the Whispering Pines Conference Center will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Maria DiSano at 401-874-8000 or by mail at Carlotti Admin Building, Kingston, RI 02881.

Bottled Water Being Provided at Charlestown Elementary School

2018-05-17

Charlestown Elementary School will be providing bottled water to students and staff because high lead levels were detected in drinking water samples collected at the school on May 16th. The exceedances were identified at two taps in the school. Bottled water will be provided until corrective actions are completed. The school district is communicating this information directly to parents and guardians, and will issue a public notice when bottled water is no longer required.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Charlestown Elementary School are partnering closely to identify the source of the lead exceedances. Routine monitoring for lead was last conducted in November 2017. There were no exceedances at that time.

Because Charlestown Elementary School has an independent water system, these results are specific to the school.

Lead is common metal found in the environment. The main sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil. Drinking water is also a possible source of lead exposure. Most lead gets into drinking water after the water leaves the local well or treatment plant and comes into contact with plumbing materials containing lead. These include lead pipes, lead solder (commonly used until 1986), as well as faucets, valves, and other components made of brass.

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to pregnant women, infants, and young children. For younger children, long-term impacts could include learning disabilities, loss of IQ, and reduced attention span. If you are concerned about exposure, you should contact your healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child's blood lead level tested.

For more information, contact the Chariho School District at 401-364-7575 or RIDOH at 401-222-5960. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home and the health effects of lead, visit EPA's web site at www.epa.gov/lead, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD, or contact your healthcare provider.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for URI W. Alton Jones Campus

2018-05-07

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the University of Rhode Island's W. Alton Jones Campus (West Greenwich) has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Pinnacle Foods Inc Recalls Beef Products Due to Possible Processing Deviation

2018-04-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Pinnacle Foods Inc. is recalling approximately 32,479 pounds of their Armour brand heat-treated, shelf-stable beef products due to a possible processing deviation that may have led to staphylococcal enterotoxin and clostridial toxin contamination. These products are sold at Walmart locations in Rhode Island. Consumers who have purchased these products should not consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

The ready-to-eat, dried, sliced beef items were produced on Jan. 2, 2018 and April 9, 2018. The products have a shelf life of three years. The following products are subject to recall: (A link to the product photo is included below).

  • 2.25 oz. glass jars containing "ARMOUR GROUND & FORMED SLICED Dried Beef" with best by dates of JAN-07-21, JAN-08-21, JAN-09-21, JAN-10-21, JAN-11-21, APR-15-21, APR-16-21, APR-17-21, APR-18-21 and APR-19-21 and lot codes 0707011Y11, 0708011Y11, 0709011Y11, 0710011Y11, 0711011Y11, 0715041Y11, 0716041Y11, 0717041Y11, 0718041Y11 and 0719041Y11 .
  • 4.5 oz. glass jars containing "ARMOUR GROUND & FORMED SLICED Dried Beef" with best by dates of JAN-23-21, JAN-24-21, JAN-25-21 and APR-22-21 and lot codes 0723011Y11, 0724011Y11, 0725011Y11 and 0722041YW1.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 2AD" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider. Staphylococcal enterotoxins and clostridial toxins can lead to very serious gastrointestinal illness with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Consumers with questions about the recall can call the Pinnacle Foods Consumer Care office at (888) 299-7646. Members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Janice Monahan, Pinnacle Foods' director of corporate communications, at (973) 541-8620.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Flu No Longer Widespread in Rhode Island

2018-04-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has alerted healthcare providers that the flu is no longer widespread in Rhode Island, which means that healthcare workers who have not been immunized against the flu are no longer required to wear surgical masks during direct patient contact.

The flu had been declared widespread in Rhode Island on January 3, 2018. 'Widespread' is the highest tier in the five-tier system that RIDOH uses to categorize flu activity in the state.

"Although the flu is no longer widespread in Rhode Island, it is still present in the state. Anyone who has not been vaccinated yet should be vaccinated as soon as possible. There is still time to get vaccinated," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "When you get a flu shot, you are not just protecting yourself. You are also protecting the ones you love by preventing the spread of the flu."

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone older than 6 months of age. It is especially important for healthcare workers, pregnant women, senior citizens, young children, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and asthma.

Although the masking requirement has been lifted for healthcare workers, should a flu outbreak occur in an individual healthcare facility, the Director of Health may require unvaccinated healthcare workers in that facility to wear masks when engaged in direct patient contact.

For more information about the flu, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/flu.

E-Cigarette Company Recalling Power Units

2018-04-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company is recalling all of its Vuse Vibe power units. The recall was initiated after the company received complaints about malfunctioning batteries, which may cause the power unit to overheat and create a fire risk.

Approximately 2.6 million power units have been sold. The e-cigarette company is investigating the cause of the incidents. No injuries have been reported.

All consumers who have Vuse Vibe vapor products should stop using the product and not charge the power unit. Please call 1-800-369-8200 or visit https://vusevapor.com/pub/media/wysiwyg/viberecallfaq.pdf for information on how to return Vuse Vibe power units and receive a refund. Vuse Solo and Vuse Ciro, which use different battery components, are not included in this recall.

There are resources in Rhode Island to help people stop using tobacco. Smokers with or without insurance can call the Rhode Island Smoker's Helpline at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) to receive free counseling by phone and up to six-week supplies of free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) gum, patch, or lozenges.

Amid National E. Coli Investigation, Rhode Islanders Urged to Take Precautions Related to Lettuce

2018-04-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers, food establishment managers, and retailers to take specific precautions related to lettuce as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to respond to a multi-state E. Coli outbreak.

Evidence collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region is the likely source of this outbreak.

Guidance for consumers

  • Consumers who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
  • Before purchasing romaine lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, consumers should confirm with the store or restaurant that it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it.
  • Guidance for food establishments and retailers
  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.
  • Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their chopped romaine lettuce.

The 11-state outbreak has involved 35 confirmed E. coli cases with 22 hospitalizations. There have not been any illnesses reported in Rhode Island. No deaths have been reported.

At this time, no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Wilbur and McMahon School

2018-04-13

The Wilbur and McMahon School, located at 28 Commons in Little Compton, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system is performing repairs on the pipes. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. This notice also applies to the additional buildings served by the school well: the town maintenance barn, Odd Fellow Grange Hall, Community Center, and Town Hall.

This health advisory will remain in effect until repairs are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Wilbur and McMahon School will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Pipe repair means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Wilbur and McMahon will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Chris Osborne Sr. at 401-835-8884.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center in Charlestown

2018-04-11

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center, located in Charlestown, has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

RIDOH Issues Health Warning About Two Jarred Products

2018-04-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising people to not consume two specific jarred products because of processing, storage, and control issues.

  • Jarred, stuffed cherry peppers from 1302 Marketplace (1302 Atwood Avenue, Johnston) should not be consumed. The cherry peppers are packaged in clear glass jars and do not contain labels or any identifying information. These products were not processed or stored properly.
  • Jarred, pure pork sausage from Silver Lake Sausage Shop (80 Ethan Street, Providence) should not be consumed. These products were not processed with the proper controls and approvals to ensure food safety.

Inadequate processing allows for the survival of the toxin that can cause Botulism. Botulism can cause weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble speaking, swallowing, or breathing. People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention.

These products should be discarded.

No illnesses have been associated with these products.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Sunset Cove Recreation Area Water System

2018-04-05

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Sunset Cove Recreation Area water system (located in West Glocester) has been lifted. This system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because the water system lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Rhode Island Teens "Kick Butts" with Anti-Tobacco Zombie Walk & State House Rally

2018-04-03

Hundreds of Rhode Island teenagers held a Kick Butts Zombie Walk across downtown Providence today to call on leaders to raise the minimum legal age for all tobacco product sales to 21 and to take additional steps to help prevent tobacco-related disease and deaths.

The event culminated with a rally led by the group Tobacco Free Teens inside the Rhode Island State House. Teenagers from communities throughout Rhode Island used their creativity to show how tobacco and nicotine use can quickly addict young people, harm adolescent brain development, cause chronic diseases, disfigure people, and kill people.

"We're thankful to live in a community that stands up to the tobacco industry to tackle the root causes of deadly tobacco and nicotine addiction head-on," said Kennedy Chartier, of North Smithfield, who attends Beacon Charter High school in Woonsocket. "Leveling the playing field is the best way to stop tobacco addiction from killing more people. Nine out of ten adult smokers first light up as a kid or teen?when the human brain can get hooked on nicotine so quickly. That makes us easy prey for tobacco products in any and all forms. An estimated 16,000 more teens alive today in Rhode Island will one day die from smoking, and we do not accept that. Our end game is to be the first tobacco-free generation."

"Every single young person in Rhode Island, no matter their ZIP code, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity, deserves the opportunity to live long, reach high, and breathe free," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "I commend every one of these teenagers for stepping up and fighting back as big tobacco looks for its next generation of victims. Their energy and enthusiasm are inspirations to us all to do everything we can to prevent youth tobacco use, with a particular focus on the communities that tobacco companies have targeted for their shameless marketing tactics most aggressively."

Higher rates of tobacco use exist among low-income earners, people who identify as LGBTTQQ, Native Americans, people with military experience, and people with behavioral health issues.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of premature death in the United States and Rhode Island. While 18 is the minimum legal tobacco purchase age in most states, more than 90% of adult smokers started before age 18. Over the last two years, five states have passed tobacco-to-21 laws to address this issue head on: California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon. Other states are considering similar measures.

Teens also took to social media to get their messages out more widely today, using the hashtags #RIEndGame and #BeTheFirst to emphasize their overarching goal to become the first tobacco-free generation.

Many sounded their alarm over candy-flavored tobacco products and e-cig juices that can lure kids and quickly hook developing adolescent brains on nicotine. Teens also emphasized that e-cigarettes and vaping device aerosols have been found to contain cancer-causing agents and other harmful chemicals. For this reason, and because they can lead to lit cigarette use, the U.S. Surgeon General has stated that young people should not use e-cigarettes or nicotine in any form.

All of this advocacy work comes after some of the nation's largest tobacco companies were found guilty in federal court in 2017 of racketeering and other charges that revealed a long history of reportedly lying to lawmakers and the public about tobacco products' health risks. It was also determined that they used marketing practices that targeted communities' vulnerable populations, including youth. Court-ordered Corrective Statement ads are scheduled to run throughout 2018 as primetime national television spots and through other media.

On Kick Butts Day, Rhode Island teens also celebrated successes in their own communities. Central Falls and Barrington have passed tobacco-to-21 laws, while Central Falls, Johnston, Middletown, Providence, West Warwick, and Woonsocket, have passed local ordinances requiring retailers to be licensed to sell tobacco products. Central Falls has also banned e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco product sales, restricted the number of tobacco retail licenses (based on population density), and restricted tobacco retailers' proximity to schools. Additionally, a growing number of Rhode Island and cities and towns have established 100% tobacco free zones in municipal parks, beaches, playgrounds, recreation fields, and other public spaces.

A complete list of communities with tobacco control policies is online.

The Rhode Island Kick Butts Day Zombie Walk was postponed from March 21st because of inclement weather. Kick Butts Day is a national awareness day sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The walk in Rhode Island was sponsored by RIDOH, Tobacco Free Rhode Island, CVS Health Foundation, and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, in partnership with Tobacco Free Youth from the following communities: Barrington, Bristol, Central Falls, Charlestown, Cranston, East Providence, Hopkinton, Johnston, Middletown, Pawtucket, Providence, Richmond, Tiverton, West Warwick, Warren, Woonsocket, and more.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Chimera Inc. (DBA Davis Mobile Home Park, in Glocester)

2018-04-03

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Chimera Inc. (DBA Davis Mobile Home Park, located in Glocester) water system has been lifted. This system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because the water system lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Coventry National Guard

2018-03-29

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Coventry National Guard water system has been lifted. This system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because the water system lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisories Lifted for Clark Memorial Library (Carolina) and The Village on Chopmist Hill (Glocester)

2018-03-28

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisories that had been in place for Clark Memorial Library in Carolina and The Village on Chopmist Hill in Glocester have been lifted. These systems were required to issue Precautionary Boil Water Advisories because they lost pressure.

Before consuming water from these systems again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Delizza Belgian Custard Cream Mini Eclairs Recalled

2018-03-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Delizza Belgian Custard Cream Mini Eclairs are being recalled because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This product was sold at Price Rite locations in Rhode Island.

Recalled products were packaged in containers of 30 eclairs. On the lid of the containers are the following lot number and expiration date: L1M1018 Best Before 09/09/19.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short term symptoms such as fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recall was a result of a routine sampling program. The company did not release any product that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. These products are being recalled as a precautionary measure. No illnesses or adverse health effects resulting from these events have been reported to date.

Consumers who have purchased or received any of the products described below should immediately discontinue use of the product and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at info@delizza.us or 252-442-4016, Attention: Heather Aycock, Quality Assurance, Monday through Friday between 9am-5pm EST.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for South Shore Mental Health Center, Inc. in Charlestown

2018-03-26

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for South Shore Mental Health Center, Inc., located in Charlestown, has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Raw Diet Cat Food Recalled Because of Listeria Risk

2018-03-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Radagast Pet Food, Inc. is recalling raw diet free-range chicken cat food and raw diet free-range turkey recipe cat food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

The recalled products were distributed in several states across the country, including Rhode Island.

Pet owners should not feed raw food diets to pets because of the potential presence of pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella. No reports of pet or human illness have been associated with this recall.

The recalled Rad Cat Raw Diet Free-Range Chicken (Lot 62762) cat food has the following UPCs:

  • 8oz UPC 8 51536 00103 6
  • 16oz UPC 8 51536 00104 3
  • 24oz UPC 8 51536 00105 0

The recalled Rad Cat Raw Diet Free-Range Turkey Recipe (Lot 62926) cat food has the following UPCs:

  • 8oz UPC 8 51536 00100 5
  • 16oz UPC 8 51536 00101 2
  • 24oz UPC 8 51536 00102 9

Any products with these lot codes should be returned for a full refund. Consumers with questions should contact Radagast Pet Food, Inc. at 503-736-4649.

Healthy people exposed to Listeria monocytogenes should monitor themselves for the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with these products should contact their healthcare providers.

Listeria monocytogenes can affect animals as well. Animals exposed to Listeria monocytogenes can display symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and muscular or respiratory abnormalities. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and exhibits these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisories Lifted for Rockville Mill Community Water System (Hopkinton) and North Smithfield Air National Guard

2018-03-20

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisories that had been in place for Rockville Mill Community Water System in Hopkinton and North Smithfield Air National Guard have been lifted. Both systems were required to issue Precautionary Boil Water Advisories because they lost pressure.

Before consuming water from these systems again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found online.

Cookies Sold at Trader Joe's Recalled Due to Undeclared Peanuts

2018-03-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Chris's Cookies has recalled one lot of its Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cookie 12 Oz (340g) Bags (Barcode#: 0068 0752) after a report that Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies were discovered in a Chocolate Chip Cookie Bag. People who have an allergy to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they eat cookies containing peanut butter.

The recalled product was distributed to Trader Joe's stores in Rhode Island, as well as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington D.C. The affected products have stickers on the side of the bag with Lot CODE: 2060 and date codes SELL BY 031218 through 031818.

No allergic reactions or illnesses have been reported to date. All of the affected cookies have been removed from sale. Consumers who have purchased the affected product and have a peanut allergy should not eat it. Discard the product or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers can contact the company at 201-288-8881 with any questions.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Famous Pizza

2018-03-19

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Famous Pizza (located in Scituate) has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Border Hill Mobile Home Park

2018-03-15

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisories that had been in place for Border Hill Mobile Home Park (located in Charlestown) has been lifted. The system was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because it lost pressure.

Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for the Coventry National Guard water system; Notice Lifted for Rhode Island Welcome Center

2018-03-14

The Coventry National Guard, located at 570 Read School House Road in Coventry, is required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below ("Household Boil Water Guidance").

This notice will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Coventry National Guard will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

The Precautionary Boil Water Notice that had been in place for Rhode Island Welcome Center has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found at the link below ("Household Cleaning and Sanitizing").

In Advance of Winter Storm, Rhode Islanders Reminded to Take Health Precautions

2018-03-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders about steps they should take to help keep themselves healthy and safe before, during, and immediately after the coming storm.

Snow Shoveling

  • Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart trouble to make sure it is safe for you to shovel snow.
  • Drink plenty of water. You can get dehydrated in cold weather too.
  • Dress warmly, and dress in several layers so you can remove a layer if needed.

Once you are outside shoveling:

  • Listen to your body. Stop if you feel tired or feel tightness in your chest.
  • Take it slow, pace yourself, and take breaks.
  • Don't pick up too much snow at once. Use a smaller shovel, or only fill the shovel part way if you use a large shovel.
  • Protect your back. Bend from the knees, and lift with your legs bent.

Never bedshare with babies, even if the heat is lost

Babies should always sleep alone, even if the heat is lost in a home. Bedsharing is extremely dangerous. A parent can roll over and prevent the baby from breathing, or the baby can get trapped between the wall and the bed. Babies typically need one more layer of clothing than adults. If your baby seems cold, the baby should be swaddled in a blanket, or dressed in an additional outfit. If you lose power and it is too cold inside your house, go to a friend or family member's home, or go to a warming center. Call 211 for a list of warming centers.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless. It can cause loss of consciousness or death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat your house. Do not use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside your house.
  • If you need to use a generator, make sure it is properly installed and vented.
  • If you lose power and it is too cold inside your house, go to a friend or family's home or go to a warming center. Call 211 for a list of warming centers.

Food Safety During and After Power Outages

During power outages, the foods items that are of greatest concern are moist, perishable foods. Bacteria can easily grow on this food.

If you believe that you could lose power:

  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting.

During power outages:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • If practical, group packages of cold food together to reduce heat gain.

Once power has been restored:

  • Power outages of more than four hours may be hazardous to food. If the food temperature is greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, or you do not know the food temperature, it is best to throw it out. In other words, when in doubt, throw it out.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for North Smithfield Air National Guard

2018-03-09

The North Smithfield Air National Guard, located at 274 Old Oxford Road in North Smithfield, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. North Smithfield Air National Guard will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at North Smithfield Air National Guard will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact SSgt Nicole Rodrigues at 401-267-3357 or Katie Quimby at 401-667-7463 ext. 104.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisories Lifted for North Scituate Elementary School, Alpine Nursing Home, and Trinity Lutheran Preschool

2018-03-09

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisories that had been in place for North Scituate Elementary School, Alpine Nursing Home (Coventry), and Trinity Lutheran Preschool (Hopkinton) have been lifted. These systems were required to issue Precautionary Boil Water Advisories because they lost pressure.

Before consuming water from these systems again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found online.

Several Rhode Island water systems were similarly required to issue Precautionary Boil Water Advisories after the storm on March 2nd. The systems with Precautionary Advisories still in place are:

  • URI Alton Jones Whispering Pines Conf. Center
  • Famous Pizza
  • Davis Mobile Home Park (Chimera, Inc.)
  • Sunset Cove Recreation Area
  • Border Hill Mobile Home Park
  • Rhode Island Welcome Center
  • The Village on Chopmist Hill
  • Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center
  • Rockville Mill Community Water System
  • South Shore Mental Health Center, Inc.
  • Briggs-Boesch Farm
  • Clark Memorial Library

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for South County Business Park; Other Advisories Remain in Place

2018-03-08

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for South County Business Park has been lifted. South County Business Park, located at 567 South County Trail in Exeter, was required to issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory because the water system lost pressure.

Before consuming water from the system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found online.

Several Rhode Island water systems were similarly required to issue Precautionary Boil Water Advisories after the storm on March 2nd. The systems with Precautionary Advisories still in place are:

  • URI Alton Jones Whispering Pines Conf. Center
  • Famous Pizza
  • Trinity Lutheran Preschool
  • Davis Mobile Home Park (Chimera, Inc. )
  • Sunset Cove Recreation Area
  • Border Hill Mobile Home Park
  • North Scituate Elementary School
  • Rhode Island Welcome Center
  • The Village on Chopmist Hill
  • Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center
  • Rockville Mill Community Water System
  • South Shore Mental Health Center, Inc.
  • Briggs-Boesch Farm
  • Alpine Nursing Home
  • Clark Memorial Library

J.M. Smucker Company Withdrawing Certain Dog Food Products

2018-03-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising pet owners that the J.M. Smucker Company is withdrawing certain canned dog food products from its Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits, Ol' Roy, and Skippy brands due to the potential for pentobarbital contamination.

The withdrawn products were distributed to retailers nationwide. These products should not be given to pets. The specific products being withdrawn are:

  • Gravy Train with T-Bone Flavor Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910052541
  • Gravy Train with Beef Strips, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 791052542
  • Gravy Train with Lamb & Rice Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910052543
  • Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034418
  • Gravy Train with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034417
  • Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks, 22-ounce can, UPC 7910051645
  • Gravy Train with Beef Chunks, 22-ounce can, UPC 7910051647
  • Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034417
  • Kibbles 'N Bits 12-can Variety Pack – Chef's Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef's Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010377, 7910010378
  • Kibbles 'N Bits 12-Can Variety Pack – Chef's Choice Bistro Hearty Cuts with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef's Choice Homestyle Meatballs & Pasta Dinner with Real Beef in Tomato Sauce, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010382, 7910048367, 7910010378
  • Kibbles 'N Bits 12-Can Variety Pack – Chef's Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef's Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef's Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010380, 7910010377, 7910010375
  • Kibbles 'N Bits Chef's Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010375
  • Kibbles 'N Bits Chef's Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010378
  • Kibbles 'N Bits Chef's Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010380
  • Ol' Roy Strips Turkey Bacon, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 8113117570
  • Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 79100502469
  • Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910050250
  • Skippy Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910050245

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate drug that is most commonly used in animals as a sedative, anesthetic, or for euthanasia. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s preliminary evaluation of the testing results of Gravy Train samples indicates that the low level of pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products is unlikely to pose a health risk to pets. However, any detection of pentobarbital in pet food is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA is investigating to learn the potential source and route of the contamination.

Ready-To-Eat Meat Products Recalled

2018-03-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Olli Salumeria Americana is recalling 3,946 pounds of ready-to-eat meat products because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The products were sold at Whole Foods locations in Rhode Island. They were sold under the brand names Gusto and Olli.

The specific products being recalled are:

  • 6 oz. packages of "Gusto Napoli Applewood-Smoked Salame," lot code 1000012821.
  • 6 oz. packages of "Gusto Chorizo Smoked Paparika," lot code 1000012812.
  • 6 oz. packages of "Gusto Sopressata Black Peppercorn Salame," lot code 1000012811.
  • 6 oz. packages of "Gusto Toscano Fennel Pollen Salame," lot code 1000012805.
  • 6 oz. packages of "Gusto Pepperoni Classically American," lot code 1000012804.
  • 175 gram packages of "Olli Molisana Pepper and Garlic Salami," lot code 1000012808.
  • 175 gram packages of "Olli Napoli Applewood-Smoked Salami," lot code 1000012810.
  • 175 gram packages of "Olli Calabrese Spicy Salami," lot code 1000012807.

The recalled products have establishment number "M-45334" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The issue was discovered when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency performed routine Listeria monocytogenes sampling. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

Consumers who have purchased these products should not consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions can write to oliviero@olli.com.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for The Village on Chopmist Hill

2018-03-06

The Village on Chopmist Hill, located at 40 Hemlock Drive in Glocester, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Village on Chopmist Hill will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at The Village on Chopmist Hill will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Victoria Szamocki at 800-624-2327.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for The Village on Chopmist Hill

2018-03-06

The Village on Chopmist Hill, located at 40 Hemlock Drive in Glocester, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Village on Chopmist Hill will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at The Village on Chopmist Hill will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Victoria Szamocki at 800-624-2327.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for South Shore Mental Health Center

2018-03-06

The South Shore Mental Health Center, located at 4705A Old Post Road in Charlestown, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The South Shore Mental Health Center will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at the South Shore Mental Health Center will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Ann Rogan at 401-606-6731.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center

2018-03-06

The Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center, located at 4605 Old Post Road in Charlestown, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Lakeview Charlestown Early Learning Center will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Victoria Szamocki at 800-624-2327.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Alpine Nursing Home in Coventry

2018-03-05

The Alpine Nursing Home, located at 557 Weaver Hill Road in Coventry, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Alpine Nursing Home will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Alpine Nursing Home will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Rod Gauvin at 401-397-5001.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Clark Memorial Library in Carolina

2018-03-05

The Clark Memorial Library, located at 7 Pinehurst Drive in Carolina, RI, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Clark Memorial Library will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Clark Memorial Library will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Lynn Thompson at 401-364-6100.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Rockville Mill Community Water System in Hopkinton

2018-03-05

The Rockville Mill Community Water System, located at 332 Canonchet Road in Rockville (Hopkinton), is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Rockville Mill will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Rockville Mill will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Ingrid Teeple at 401-334-2802 ext. 20.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Border Hill Mobile Home Park in Charlestown

2018-03-05

The Border Hill Mobile Home Park, located at South County Trail (Rt. 112 & Rt. 2) in Charlestown, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Border Hill Mobile Home Park will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Border Hill Mobile Home Park will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Eric Treaster at 860-536-6240.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for South County Business Park in Exeter

2018-03-05

The South County Business Park, located at 567 South County Trail in Exeter, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. South County Business Park will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at South County Business Park will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Richard Marcello at 401-295-0300.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for North Scituate Elementary School

2018-03-05

The North Scituate Elementary School, located at 46 Institute Lane in Scituate, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. North Scituate Elementary School will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at North Scituate Elementary School will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Robert Corrente at 401-647-4100.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Chimera Inc (Davis Mobile Home Park) in Chepachet

2018-03-05

Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park), located on Everson Drive in Chepachet, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park) will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park) will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Anthony or Maggie Salvatore at 401-783-4538.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Sunset Cove Recreation Area in West Glocester

2018-03-05

The Sunset Cove Recreation Area, located at 2267 Putnam Pike (Rt. 44) in West Glocester, is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Sunset Cove Recreation Area will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Sunset Cove Recreation Area will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Deborah Charron at 401-568-9114.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Trinity Lutheran Pre-School in Hopkinton

2018-03-05

Trinity Lutheran Pre-School, located at 110 High Street in Ashaway (Hopkinton), is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Trinity Lutheran Pre-School will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Trinity Lutheran Pre-School will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Stephen Dietrich at 401-377-4340.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Famous Pizza in North Scituate

2018-03-05

Famous Pizza in North Scituate is required to issue a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Famous Pizza will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Famous Pizza will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact John Lang at 401-934-0278.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for URI W. Alton Jones Campus, Whispering Pines Conference Center

2018-03-05

The Whispering Pines Conference Center at URI's W. Alton Jones Campus has issued a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Whispering Pines Conference Center will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at the Whispering Pines Conference Center will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with questions should contact Maria DiSano at 401-874-8000 or by mail at Carlotti Admin Building, Kingston, RI 02881.

Drinking Water Warning Issued for Westerly Water Department Customers

2018-02-13

The Westerly Water Department has issued a drinking water warning to its customers because a treatment equipment failure sent excess treatment chemicals into the water supply on Thursday, February 8th and Friday, February 9th. Westerly Water Department customers who have not used their faucets since Friday should not drink or use the water before flushing. These customers should perform a one-time flush of household faucets for three to five minutes to discharge water with potentially high concentrations of chemicals from interior plumbing. Faucets that have been in regular use since Friday have already been flushed of these chemicals.

These chemicals resulted in an increased level of pH in the water. Exposure to very high pH values can result in irritation to the eyes, skin, lips, mouth, nasal passages, and other mucous membranes. In sensitive individuals, gastrointestinal irritation may also occur. If a Westerly Water Department customer experiences these symptoms, and if these symptoms persist, the attention of a healthcare provider should be sought.

The Westerly Water Department sells water to customers throughout the Town of Westerly and to customers in Pawcatuck, Connecticut. People with questions should call the Westerly Water Department at 401-348-2561.

Only customers billed by the Westerly Water Department are affected by this warning. Areas in Pawcatuck, Connecticut not affected by this drinking water warning are customers:

  • South of Rt. 1 in Connecticut beyond Greenhaven Road
  • North of Rt. 2 in Connecticut beyond 300 feet past Route 617
  • North of Rt. 49 in Connecticut beyond Stop and Shop Shopping Plaza
  • West of Peqqot Trail in Connecticut (Rt. 234) beyond Billings Street
  • South of River Road in Connecticut beyond 200 feet beyond Crestview Avenue
  • Elm Ridge Road in Connecticut beyond Fairview Avenue

RIDOH Investigating Allergic-Type Reactions Among Students

2018-02-09

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is investigating the occurrence of allergic-type reactions in school students today that are associated with the consumption of kiwi fruit.

RIDOH received reports of approximately 34 students experiencing symptoms, including itching of the lips and mouth, hives and tongue swelling. Fresh kiwi fruit was consumed immediately prior to onset of these reactions. Some of the students were treated in the school setting, and a few at the emergency department, with antihistamines (such as Diphenhydramine or Benadryl®) and all improved. The cause of the reaction is unknown at this time. Reports have been confirmed from the following schools:

  • Blackstone Valley Prep 1, Cumberland
  • Blackstone Valley Prep 2, Cumberland
  • Blackstone Valley Prep 3, Cumberland
  • Vartan Gregorian, Providence
  • Southside Elementary Charter, Providence
  • Globe Park School, Woonsocket
  • Illuminar at ACH 1st, Providence
  • Highlander, Providence
  • Frank Spaziano Annex, Providence
  • Times 2 Academy, Providence
  • Nathaniel Greene, Pawtucket
  • Anges Hennessey, East Providence
  • Silver Springs, East Providence
  • Orlo Avenue, East Providence

The fruit was cut and bagged at Roch's Fresh Foods in West Greenwich. Roch's has been very cooperative as RIDOH works with schools to ensure that all the fresh fruit from this distributor is discarded. In addition, the distribution of kiwis from Roch's Fresh Foods has been suspended. Because fruit had also been distributed to Massachusetts, RIDOH is coordinating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

It is very unlikely that any delayed allergic reaction will occur from consuming these kiwis. All of the reported allergic reactions happened immediately after consuming the fruit. However, if any student does experience these symptoms, parents should contact their healthcare providers for advice and guidance.

Warwick Stop and Shop Issues Consumer Alert on Deli Sliced Meat and Cheese

2018-02-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Stop & Shop in Warwick is issuing a consumer alert regarding deli sliced meat and cheese because of potential exposure to Listeria monocytogenes.

This alert pertains to deli sliced meat and cheese sold between January 18th and February 2rd. Customers who purchased deli sliced meat and cheese at this store during this period should discard these products and bring their receipts to Stop & Shop for full refunds.

The deli is temporarily closed while it is being professionally cleaned. (The rest of the store is still open.)

There have been no confirmed illnesses associated with this issue to date. Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. However, listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and people with HIV infection or people undergoing chemotherapy.

Consumers looking for additional information on this consumer alert can visit the store at 300 Quaker Lane in Warwick, or call Stop & Shop customer service at 800-767-7772. Press inquiries for Stop & Shop should be directed to Phil Tracey (617-774-4434 | philip.tracey@stopandshop.com).

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association

2018-02-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Quonochontaug East Beach water system have lifted the boil water advisory that was in place between January 25, 2018 and February 2, 2018 because of an E. coli bacteria finding. Samples taken by the Quonochontaug East Beach water system on January 30th, 31st, and February 1st were all absent of bacteria.

Before consuming water from the system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found online.

The Quonochontaug East Beach water system was disinfected with chlorine and then flushed before collecting a total of three samples throughout the distribution system and three at Well #2. Routine sampling of the water system will continue and Well #1 will remain offline until it is confirmed safe to use..

Consumers with questions should contact Bob Pompei at 401-741-4042.

Panera Bread Recalls Cream Cheese Products

2018-01-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Panera Bread is recalling all varieties of two ounce and eight ounce cream cheese products sold in its U.S. bakery-cafes. This recall was initiated after samples of one variety of two ounce cream cheese showed a positive result for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled products have an expiration date on or before 4/2/18.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Affected 2 ounce cream cheese varieties: Plain Cream Cheese, Reduced- Fat Plain Cream Cheese, Reduced-Fat Chive & Onion Cream Cheese, Reduced-Fat Honey Walnut Cream Cheese, Reduced-Fat Wild Blueberry Cream Cheese.

Affected 8 ounce cream cheese varieties: Plain Cream Cheese, Reduced- Fat Plain Cream Cheese, Reduced-Fat Chive & Onion Cream Cheese, Reduced-Fat Honey Walnut Cream Cheese, Reduced-Fat Wild Blueberry Cream Cheese.

Consumers in possession of these products should discard them immediately and contact Panera Bread Customer Service at 1-855-6-PANERA for a full refund.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association

2018-01-25

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association has issued a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

E. coli is bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. Coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found online (see link below).

Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association serves approximately 112 homes and 200 customers. The neighboring Central Beach Fire District is not affected. E. Coli was detected in a routine sample taken at Quonochontaug East Beach's Well #1 on 1/23/18. This well has been turned off until it can be inspected and disinfected, and bacteria samples come back absent. Well #2, which is absent of bacteria, will supply the water system. The water system will be disinfected the night of 1/25/18 and flushed on 1/26/18. Residents should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until three consecutive days of samples are absent of bacteria and approved by RIDOH. People with questions should Ken Andrew at 860-377-6202.

Federal shutdown not expected to have any immediate impact on WIC

2018-01-20

At this time, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) does not expect the shutdown of the federal government to have any immediate impact on local WIC services.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (better known as the WIC Program) is a federal program that serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to healthcare.

Any updates about WIC services will be posted at http://www.health.ri.gov.

Rhode Islanders Reminded About Appropriate Settings for Medical Care

2018-01-12

With hospital emergency departments throughout the state seeing high volumes of patients, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders about the need to seek medical care in the most appropriate setting.

Since the start of January, Rhode Island has seen significant increases in the number of cases of norovirus, flu, and other respiratory illnesses. RIDOH maintains several systems to monitor flu-related illnesses, outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths that validate these increases.

Many types of illnesses and injuries usually do not require an emergency department visit, including back pain, sprains, minor cuts, colds, sore throats, low-grade fevers, and most cases of norovirus. Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach illness that can cause people to have extreme vomiting or diarrhea for 24-28 hours. Norovirus is found in the stool and vomit of an infected person and can spread by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus; or if an infected person vomits in a public space. Going to an emergency department for most cases of norovirus and the other health issues listed above will likely result in long waits because emergency department staff prioritize more serious injuries and illnesses.

Additionally, less severe cases of the flu are often better treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility than in an emergency department. However, some cases of the flu should be treated in an emergency department. Emergency warning signs that indicate that someone with the flu does need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider will be able to give you guidance about the next best step for you or your child. (Most offices have physicians on-call after hours.)

Tips to avoid catching and spreading illnesses:

  • Get vaccinated against the flu. The flu is in Rhode Island every year through the end of the spring. By being vaccinated now, you can still get several months' worth of protection.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food.
  • Stay home if you are sick and keep children home from school if they are sick.
  • After an episode of illness that involves vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or a solution made by adding 5?25 tablespoons of household bleach to one gallon of water.
  • If you have norovirus, do not prepare food for other people. After you no longer have the symptoms of norovirus, still do not prepare food for other people for three days.

Hundreds Expected at Community Event to Rewrite the End to RI's Overdose Epidemic

2018-01-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the organization Creating Outreach About Addiction Support Together (COAAST) will be hosting a free, community event on Monday, January 15th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence called Owning Our Story: About the Opioid Overdose Epidemic. (An art installation and resource tables will be in place beginning at 6 p.m. The performances and speaking program will begin at 7 p.m.)

The event, which is expected to draw hundreds of Rhode Islanders, will be a chance to rewrite the ending to Rhode Island's overdose crisis. It will feature TED Talk-style presentations from local speakers, interactive skits, and small scenes from COAAST's acclaimed play, Four Legs to Stand On, about a family in crisis over an adult child's drug addiction. Featured speakers will include:

Josiah Rich, MD, MPH, Professor at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Expert Advisor to Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force

Paul S. Kandarian, an Army combat veteran in active recovery; and

Alyssa Sullivan, yoga teacher and author who will discuss suffering and how to create authentic connection and joy.

"There are stories of love behind every single person who we have lost to addiction, and there are stories of hope and redemption behind every person living in recovery," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This event on January 15th will allow some of those stories to be voiced, and it will allow us to send the message together that there is zero shame in stepping forward and saying that you need help. We have lost more than 1,200 lives to drug overdoses in the last five years alone. We owe it to each one of those precious souls, and to their families, to do anything and everything we can to prevent any more overdoses and deaths."

Along with Director Rebecca Boss of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), Dr. Alexander-Scott co-chairs Governor Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.

COAAST is a Rhode Island-based organization that is working to end the opioid overdose epidemic through arts-based educational performances and events. The organization specializes in drama therapy, which is the use of drama and theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals. More information is available at coaast.org.

"The mission of Owning Our Story is to educate Rhode Islanders about addiction as a chronic disease, create healing around loss from overdose, rally around recovery, and shed conversational light on the stigma, pain, and shame of the disease," said Ana Bess, COAAST Founder, Executive Director, and playwright. "Drama therapy allows clients to practice healthy interpersonal skills, foster relationships, express their emotions, explore a drug-free future, and act out negative behaviors associated with the disease to consider the harmful impact in a concrete way. We cannot escape the stories that shape our lives, no matter how painful. Only in bringing them into the light can we re-write their endings."

View the Owning Our Story Facebook event page at bit.ly/OOS-RI. For Rhode Island opioid overdose data and local treatment and recovery resources, people can visit PreventOverdoseRI.org or call 401-942-STOP (7867).

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Centre of New England - Boulevard

2018-01-11

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Centre of New England – Boulevard water system (New London Turnpike entry point) have lifted the boil water advisory that was in place between December 29, 2017 and January 11, 2018 because of an E. coli bacteria finding. Samples taken by the Centre of New England – Boulevard water system (New London Turnpike entry point) on January 8th, 9th, and 10th were all absent of bacteria. No sections of Centre of New England, which is located in Coventry, are on a boil-water advisory at this time.

Before consuming water from the system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitization can be found online.

The Centre of New England – Boulevard water system (New London Turnpike entry point) was disinfected with an increased level of chlorine and then flushed to normal chlorine levels before collecting a total of seven samples throughout the distribution system. Routine sampling of the water system will continue.

Consumers with questions should contact attorney Matthew McGowan at 401-274-0300 Ext. 217 or mmcgowan@smsllaw.com.

Orange Cream Bars and Chocolate-Coated Vanilla Ice Cream Bars Recalled

2018-01-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Fieldbrook Foods Corporation is recalling certain orange cream bars and chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bars.

One of Fieldbrook's more popular brands is Hood. Fieldbrook products were sold at several Rhode Island retailers. More information about the recalled products is available online. (See below.)

The orange cream bars and chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bars are being recalled due to the possibility that they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short- term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine industry testing revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in only a few ice cream bar samples of many tested. The expansion of the recall is out of precaution for consumer health and food safety after a few additional samples tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. There is no evidence of any contamination prior to October 31, 2017, but the company has issued the recall back to January 1, 2017 through an abundance of caution and in full cooperation with the FDA. The company has suspended production and distribution of all products produced on this production line while it cooperates with the FDA to fully investigate the source of the problem.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1 800/333-0805 x2270.

Amid Increases in Seasonal Illnesses, Rhode Islanders Urged to Practice Good Health Habits

2018-01-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is urging everyone to practice good health habits to prevent the spread of illnesses, which includes getting vaccinated against the flu if you have not yet been vaccinated. In the last ten days Rhode Island has seen significant increases in the amount of norovirus, flu, and other respiratory illnesses circulating throughout the state.

"The flu is a very serious virus that can send someone to the hospital, and norovirus can be dangerous for some people too," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Both viruses spread very easily. However, by taking a few simple preventive steps, you can help keep both yourself and people around you healthy and safe."

Flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. The flu is in Rhode Island most years through the end of the spring. By being vaccinated now, people can still get several months of protection. Flu shots are available in pharmacies and doctors' offices. Unvaccinated healthcare workers are currently required to wear masks when engaged in direct patient care. If taken within 48 hours of getting symptoms of the virus, antiviral drugs like oseltamivir and zanamivir may reduce some of the symptoms.

Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach illness that can cause people to have extreme vomiting or diarrhea for 24-28 hours. (It is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.) Norovirus is found in the stool and vomit of an infected person. People can become infected by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; if an infected persons prepares food; or if an infected person vomits in a public space.

Ways to Prevent Catching and Spreading the Flu

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Stay home if you are sick and keep children home from school if they are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Ways to Prevent Catching and Spreading Norovirus

  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food.
  • Stay home if you are sick and keep children home from school if they are sick.
  • After an episode of illness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or a solution made by adding 5?25 tablespoons of household bleach to 1 gallon of water.
  • Do not prepare food while infected. People who are infected with norovirus should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover from their illness.

If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about the severity of your own or your child's illness, call your healthcare provider for advice.

Rhode Islanders Reminded to Take Health Precautions When Shoveling Snow

2018-01-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to take precautions to stay healthy and safe when shoveling snow. Because shoveling can cause sudden increases in blood pressure and heart rate, it can causes heart attacks. Shoveling can also cause shoulder and back injuries.

Before shoveling

  • Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart trouble to make sure it is safe for you to shovel snow.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Dress warmly, and dress in several layers.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
  • Warm up the muscles in your arms and legs. Walk around for a few minutes and stretch your arms and legs.

While shoveling

  • Take it slow, pace yourself, and take breaks.
  • Don't pick up too much snow at once. Use a smaller shovel, or only fill the shovel part way if you use a large shovel.
  • Protect your back. Bend from the knees, and lift with your legs bent. Stand with your feet about hip width apart for good balance, and keep the shovel close to your body.
  • Try not to twist. If you need to move snow to one side, move your feet to face the direction you are throwing the snow.
  • Listen to your body. Stop if you feel tired or feel tightness in your chest.
  • Call 911 if you or someone you are with is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack (chest pain or pressure; sweating; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms; lightheadedness or sudden weakness; a fast or irregular heartbeat).

'Widespread Flu' in Rhode Island Prompts Activation of Masking Requirement

2018-01-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that the flu is "widespread" in Rhode Island, triggering the state's requirement for unvaccinated healthcare workers in hospitals and many other types of healthcare facilities to wear surgical masks.

"The masking requirement is critical in protecting healthcare workers from catching the flu, and also in protecting patients who are often dealing with other serious health issues," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it is not too late. Flu vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and the people you love safe from the flu."

The healthcare facilities and organizations to which this regulation applies are:

  • Adult day care programs
  • Assisted living facilities
  • CVS Minute Clinics
  • Free-standing ambulatory care surgical centers
  • Free-standing emergency care facilities
  • Home care providers
  • Home nursing care providers
  • Hospice providers
  • Hospitals
  • Kidney treatment centers
  • Nursing facilities
  • Organized ambulatory care facilities
  • Physician ambulatory surgery centers

Unvaccinated healthcare workers in these facilities must wear surgical masks when involved in direct patient contact. Direct patient contact is considered routinely anticipated face-to-face contact with patients, such as entering a patient's room, serving food to patients, or participating in group patient activities.

In addition to the healthcare workers in these facilities, all licensed EMS practitioners who have not been vaccinated against the flu must wear masks when engaged in direct patient contact.

Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. In addition to healthcare workers, vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, people over the age of 50, nursing or group home residents, and people with chronic conditions (such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia, blood disorders, or weakened immune systems).

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, head and body aches, fatigue, and runny nose. Some people also have vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu shots are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.