rhode island department of health

The Rhode Island Department of Health says it’s currently monitoring several recent arrivals from West Africa to guard against Ebola. But some members of the West African community want the health department to do more.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A child from Rhode Island has died from a combination of infections, including enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. It’s one of the first known deaths with some kind of link to EV-D68. What role the respiratory virus played in the child’s death is still unclear.

Tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 27) is the 29th annual AIDS Walk for Life, which begins at 10 am at the statehouse. Organizers (AIDS Project RI) are offering free, rapid HIV tests on site.

The event happens against the backdrop of news this week of lower awareness among gay men of HIV screening and treatment recommendations.

From Kaiser Health News:

Rhode Island’s first case of enterovirus D68 has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is responsible for some hospitalizations, but so far no deaths.

Rhode Island’s first case of the respiratory virus has been confirmed in an adult, who was recently hospitalized but has been discharged. It’s already been confirmed in neighboring states. Rhode Island sent a batch of specimens to the CDC for testing, and this is the first to come back positive.

Rhode Island health officials are waiting to find out if enterovirus D68 has hit the Ocean State. The virus has been confirmed in 18 states so far, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Health officials in Connecticut confirmed the first case there earlier this week.

That’s the closest state to Rhode Island to have any confirmed cases of the virus, though the Rhode Island Department of Health says it’s seen increases in respiratory problems in emergency rooms across the state.

Here are a few asthma resources in the community to help you or a loved one manage your asthma. Did you know you can attend classes to learn more about managing your or your child's asthma, arrange a home visit to help reduce triggers where you live, and more - often for free?

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s health department has started tracking the number of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. Agency head Dr. Michael Fine says that’s because those drugs are addictive. And four out of five people who use heroin got started on prescription painkillers. In July, he says, 118,000 Rhode Islanders got prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

Rhode Island health department officials do not expect to see any Ebola cases in the state. But they’re preparing anyway.

Rhode Island’s health department director Dr. Michael Fine says his agency knows how to handle an infectious disease outbreak. And one of the first lines of defense against Ebola includes health care workers and hospitals.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that everyone understands what they have to do should a traveler come here from an endemic area," said Fine.

The state health department has announced more funding for a home visiting program for families and children at risk. The Healthy Families America program aims to prevent child maltreatment before it starts.                                                        

A program designed to help Rhode Island's older adult population prepare for climate change threats is one of several projects that will receive federal money as part of the state's disaster recovery action plan.  This program will receive $150,000 over the next two years.