Viral illnesses spreading in Rhode Island

Viral illnesses spreading in Rhode Island

Disease surveillance systems at the Rhode Island Department of Health have detected an increase in viral respiratory and gastrointestinal illness over the past several days. This is not unexpected for this time of year, but officials are urging all Rhode Islanders to help prevent the spread of viral illnesses like the flu and norovirus by practicing good personal protection measures, like washing hands, sneezing into the elbow, and staying home if sick.

Flu activity is increasing in Rhode Island, and a flu shot is the easiest and most effective way to help prevent the flu.

“While we expect to see an increase in viral illnesses at this time of year, we know hospital emergency departments are experiencing an increase in patients with respiratory and gastrointestinal illness,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott. “It is important to protect yourself from getting sick whenever possible, by following the tips to best take care of you and your family this winter.”

Many viral illnesses need to run their course and require staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections and will not cure illnesses caused by a virus. If you are sick enough to seek medical care and your problem is not life-threatening or risking disability, you may be able to call your doctor or schedule an urgent visit for care instead of going directly to the emergency department.