Pandemics

A pandemic is a disease outbreak that happens all over the world. The type of pandemic that is most likely to occur in the State of Rhode Island is influenza. This is because when a new strain of influenza virus appears, people have little or no immunity to the new strain, and there is no vaccine readily available. A pandemic disease is easily passed from person to person, and it can spread across the world in a very short time. The last flu pandemic in the United States was in 2009 when the H1N1 strain of flu emerged.

Pandemics can cause a lot of illness or death. Large numbers of people get sick at the same time and the entire healthcare system can quickly become overwhelmed. Older adults, young children, and people with chronic, long-term health conditions are more likely to get infected.

Learn how you can prepare yourself and your family before, during, and after a pandemic occurs by downloading our Pandemic Preparedness Guide.

Zika

The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bited of an infected Aedes species mosquito.

At-Risk Populations

At-Risk Populations

Anyone can be infected with the Zika virus. However, pregnant women are of particular concern due to the possible link between Zika virus infection and poor pregnancy outcomes.

For more information on Zika and how it can potentially impact preganancy, as well as pregnancy prevention tips, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website.

Symptoms

Symptoms

According to the CDC, below are the most common symptoms of Zika:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Joint/Muscle Pain
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Symptoms may appear within 3-14 days of infection. About one in five people infected with Zika virus become ill. Anyone who has traveled to an area with active, mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus and develops symptoms of Zika virus should contact their healthcare provider.

Transmission

Transmission

Zika virus is primarily spread to people through mosquito bites. The species of mosquito that carries Zika virus is not known to be in Rhode Island at any time of the year. There have been some documented cases of sexual transmission of Zika virus. In Rhode Island, Zika virus is considered to be travel-acquired. This means that if there is a confirmed case, it will most likely be because that person contracted the virus in another area and then returned to Rhode Island.

Prevention

Prevention

  • Pregnant women who have plans to travel to an affected area should delay travel.
  • Men who travel to an affected area and have a pregnant sexual partner should use a condom during sex or abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • Anyone who travels to an area with active, mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus should use an EPA-approved bug sprat with at least 20% DEET to help prevent mosquito bites.

Testing & Diagnosis

Testing & Diagnosis

Currently, the CDC is the only place that can perform the laboratory test to diagnose Zika virus.

Treatment

Treatment

There is currently no vaccine or medication available to prevent or treat Zika virus infection.

For additional information on the Zika virus for Rhode Islanders, visit the RI Department of Health's website.

For Rhode Islanders traveling to the Caribbean, Central America, the Pacific Islands, and South America, visit CDC's Zika Travel Information site to view Zika Travel Notices and learn how to properly protect yourself from Zika while traveling.